Ventura OKs plans to move bike path, replace water pipes
Tuesday, August 4, 2009 By Kevin Clerici
The Ventura City Council this week approved three major improvement projects, including the first phase of a multimillion-dollar plan to relocate a decaying bike path and restore the beach near Surfers Point and the Ventura County Fairgrounds.
...Coastal watchdogs, outdoor enthusiasts and community leaders have been working on a campaign to relocate and replace a crumbling bike path along Ventura’s coastline for 15 years.
Construction of the initial $3 million phase, to be paid with one-time grants, could begin in November or December. The restoration effort has been hailed as a model environmental approach to stabilize and restore 1,800 feet of beach near the fairgrounds.
The project will relocate the bike and pedestrian trail and parking lot on the ocean side of Shoreline Drive about 65 feet inland toward the fairgrounds. Once the path and parking lot are relocated, several tons of cobblestone will be spread at water’s edge, adding to the rocky shoreline. Sand then would be laid over the cobblestones to help restore the area to a more natural beach habitat and prevent future erosion.
A portion of Shoreline Drive will be shortened as part of the project. The second, unfunded phase of the project would include a new parking lot and picnic areas at the fairgrounds.
The California Coastal Commission unanimously approved a necessary construction permit in 2006.
“This is a groundbreaking project,” in using nature’s own patterns to protect the beach, said Lawrence Manson, who helped create the Surfrider Foundation’s Ventura County chapter.
Initially projected to cost a few million dollars, construction costs have ballooned to $9 million because of rising materials costs and added public amenities.
Because the grant funds must be spent by the end of the year or possibly be forfeited, supporters explored a phased approach.
Ventura was unsuccessful in its bid for $5 million in federal stimulus funds to help complete the project.
A Wall Street Journal opinion piece in December put the beach restoration plan on a list of “shovel-ready” proposals it dubbed as unworthy for federal stimulus funds. Other requests it said were frivolous included $1 million to upgrade the Los Angeles County Convention Center elevated “catwalk” with cameras and lighting; $350,000 for an Albuquerque, N.M., fitness center; $94 million for a parking garage at the Orange Bowl in Miami; $3.1 million for a swimming pool in Tulsa; and $80,000 for a tennis facility in Santa Barbara.
Councilman Brian Brennan said the editorial’s authors likely didn’t take the time to understand the Ventura plan.
“This may be frivolous sounding in name, but this is a well-respected project,” he said, noting that since the editorial was published, coastal cities in North Carolina and other states have called Ventura wanting to learn more.
Surfrider Foundation - Ventura Campaign Coordinator