Concerns about surrounding areas come to light in latest ‘trail rage’ meeting
Roseville residents gathered last Thursday to speak with city officials about a proposed bike trail that would link the city to the American River Parkway and parts of Sacramento County. Before the meeting was over, a myriad of concerns were raised about environmental impacts and public safety — with a consistent implication being that Roseville’s quality of life would be negatively affected by being linked to the region just south of it by a paved trail.
The meeting was kicked off by Jim Robinson of the Meadow Oak Neighborhood Association. Robinson was recently appointed to take over as a stakeholder representative for the group after Donna Wilson was ousted from the same position.
“We wanted to show you what the project actually is,” Robinson told a packed room at the Maidu Community Center, “as opposed to some of the misinformation that is floating around out there.”
City officials told the crowd that if and when the final design and permitting is completed, phased construction on the bike trail would run from 2016 to 2025. Roseville’s Alternative Transportation Analyst Mike Dour emphasized that the trail’s planning and feasibility study had seen “robust” participation from residents and neighborhood associations throughout the course of six meetings.
However, Wilson, who was present in the audience, questioned whether city leaders were glossing over the visual and biological consequences the trail could cause in the Linda Creek Greenbelt. Wilson and other property owners repeatedly expressed fears that the bike corridor will move over severely eroded portions of Linda Creek’s banks, which might force city engineers to use cheap rock walls to fix problems rather than ecologically friendly bio-engineering.
“The Friends of Linda Creek have put a lot of work into habitat restoration,” said resident Rosalyn Clement. “It seems like if you have to drop a bunch of rocks, we won’t see nature anymore.”
Dour acknowledged the city might use some rocks. “It’s not our first choice,” he said. “We might do some bio-engineering in places where it makes sense.”
Some residents questioned whether a new bike trail in the heavily wooded greenbelt would contribute to crime for nearby homeowners.
Roseville Police Officer David Flood, who deals with transient and homeless issues, told the gathering he didn’t think it would.
“When we open these areas up and get more of the public out there, it tends to shoo problematic people away,” Flood said. “Criminals want to be somewhere where they won’t be found.”
Citing numerous illegal homeless camps he’d dealt with prior to constructing a bike path from Harding Boulevard to Folsom Street, Flood added, “The trails that have already gone up have eliminated a lot of problems.”
Wilson wasn’t convinced.
“Everyone knows our big problem in Roseville is burglaries,” she said, standing up. “There are so many houses that would come right up to the back of the trail. Oregon has done studies that suggest that when these trails are built in wooded areas with homes nearby, there’s an increase in drug-trafficking and crime.”
Dour said he believed the findings Wilson referred to pertained specifically to trails in urban areas rather than suburban neighborhoods like Roseville. Flood also thought the apprehension was misplaced.
“I don’t know about Oregon, but I know Roseville,” he observed, “and we haven’t seen that here.”
Roseville homeowner Kathy Berger, whose property would be near the bike trail, said she has frequently been the victim of vandals and thieves and worries the trail will only make it easier for perpetrators to vanish after causing problems. Several residents agreed, expanding on the point by theorizing the trail would allow criminal-minded people from Sacramento County to easily access Roseville neighborhoods on their bicycles.
Flood said the reality of transient crime patterns in the city has little to do with bicycles.
“Those parts of the creek are already accessible to (transients and criminals) right now,” Flood countered. “We’re not talking about putting a trail where there isn’t already one. Besides, I don’t see a lot of people using trails to access Roseville for crime from Sacramento. A lot of suspects do come here from other areas to commit criminal acts, but they come here in cars — they park their car in a neighborhood, hit a house and then leave the city in their car.”
Roseville cycling enthusiasts had their own concerns to share with Dour and city officials: Several said that connecting the city’s trails with the American River Parkway would “change the entire culture” of bike-riding in the area. Specifically, Roseville cyclists accused Sacramento cyclists of being high-speed riders with “no respect” for families, pedestrians or pet-walkers — charging that American River Parkway cyclists will even cuss at small children in their way, and sometimes run them over.
Before the meeting ended, tempers nearly fired up when several members of the Meadow Oaks Neighborhood Association attempted to publicly question Robinson about how and why he replaced Wilson as the official stakeholder. Robinson seemed eager to engage the challenge, though Dour stepped in to shut down the acrimony.
“This is not the venue for that question,” he told an angry Wilson supporter. “You can create another venue to talk about all of that, but we’re not going to do it here.”
Wilson handed out a statement at the meeting casting doubt about why she was ejected from her position in the neighborhood association.
“I was suddenly removed as representative two weeks ago, by the Meadow Oaks Board in a closed door session,” she wrote. “I was told to come alone and there would be no records kept. This is not in our bylaws … I feel the board is politically aligned with the city of Roseville, not the neighborhood. Jim Robinson, the chairperson of MONA Board voted to have me fired and took over my position as the representative. However, as a 25 year homeowner on the creek, I am a stakeholder in my own right.”
The next public meeting about the proposed Linda Creek Bike Trail will be March 21 at 6 p.m. at the Maidu Community Center.