It feels like a weekly event: another meeting where opponents of the Rail Trail throw another obstacle in front of it and say, “Another obstacle, let’s quit.” This week’s obstacle was thrown into the mix by New Leaf Market on the West Side. New Leaf had a handshake agreement with the City that would have the trail next to the New Leaf parking lot – AND give them nine much needed parking places.
A win-win, you’d think, with New Leaf getting more parking and direct access to the trail. A win-win, at least, unless you wanted to delay building the first segment and jeopardize $4 million in federal funds.
City staff immediately amended its plan to reroute the trail onto city streets, calling it a short-term plan. The city’s make-shift move is necessary to meet the deadlines of the federal funds for the project. The city hopes New Leaf will change its mind again.
When word got out what was happening, someone started a petition (Gary Larson) and was shocked that it had 2,000 signers in just two days. Friends of the Rail and Trail (FORT), Bike Santa Cruz County, and the Land Trust all helped circulate the petition, an example of how we are collaborating to defend this transformative project from sustained attack. Another example of our collaboration is the Top Ten Reasons to Build the Rail Trail Now.
This week’s obstacle was overcome when the Santa Cruz City Council unanimously approved the work-around. I have a feeling that the “Train Never” people will keep throwing obstacles in the way – and those of us who want the Rail Trail built ASAP will keep finding ways around them.