Solvang city councilors unanimously decided to move forward with submitting a grant application for a potential Sunny Fields Spur Trail during a special meeting Monday night.
Planning and design firm Alta will prepare the grant application for the state’s Active Transportation Program to the tune of $23,500.
Despite Public Works Director Matt van der Linden’s recommendation that councilors postpone discussing trail alignments until a final study is presented in July, most of the public comments Monday revolved around the topic.
Creekside resident Steve Berg said he is opposed to trail alignment 3, which would directly impact his property.
“If the goal can be accomplished with alignment 5 for $1.6 million without opposition at every step of the way, why not forgo the extra $2 million? Berg asked, referencing the higher cost cited for the alignment 3 project.
“Let another community have some funds so they can improve their structure. That’s how you connect communities. You share the road and you share the money.”
Berg also spoke at the June 11 city council meeting.
“We don’t need a million dollar bridge over Alamo Pintado Creek. We can improve what we already have rather than spending millions of dollars on these spurs which will greatly affect our property,” Berg said last Monday.
During Monday’s special meeting, Creekside resident Brian Baca said he disagreed with Berg’s assertion that alignment 5 would accomplish the same goal as alignment 3.
“Well actually it really doesn’t accomplish an important goal for any bicycle path and that is to connect the residential areas of a community and keep kids off of major highways and major streets,” Baca said.
He said the main goal of the project should be to connect the Creekside neighborhood.
“What is best for the majority is a connection to the Creekside neighborhood so bicycle riders can use public streets that the city of Solvang maintains in front of my house and in front of everybody else’s house in Creekside,” Baca said.
Later, Berg said “It actually sounds like alignment 2 should be put back on the table.”
Baca said he’s opposed to alignment 2.
“I don’t think the people on Creekside should take the burden of having that connection,” Baca said.
Mike Hecker, with Santa Ynez Valley Spoke, told councilors that time was of the essence because the grant application is due at the end of July and urged them to approve the application.
“Some in the community would have you think that making this decision before an alignment is chosen isn’t the right course of action,” Hecker said. “We couldn’t agree less with that point of view.”
He said regardless of which alignment is chosen, the rest of the grant application is mostly the same.
Ed France, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Bicycle Coalition, likened Solvang to Carpinteria, which he called a small but empowered city.
“It is amazing how the city of Solvang has been so responsive to this community's needs and the community dialogue,” France said.
Earlier in the meeting, van der Linden told councilors that the Active Transportation Program is competitive and favors projects that extend into disadvantaged communities.
He said the city’s last grant application to the program was unsuccessful.
“Staff does feel we should pursue it, but I don’t want everyone to get their hopes too high,” van der Linden said.
Councilor Ryan Toussaint made a motion to approve the grant application.
“I think everyone here is in favor of moving forward with this and that’s what this meeting is about,” Toussaint said, before the motion passed unanimously.