2012-12-14 / Front Page

Arroyo project scores second sizeable grant

Award of almost $900K will be aimed at upgrading trail
By Carissa Marsh

Park officials are one step closer to making “the wash” a place locals might actually want to hang out.

The ongoing and long-term project to beautify the Arroyo Simi recently received a state grant of nearly $900,000.

The Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District, the lead agency on the Arroyo Simi Greenway project’s grant application, announced Tuesday that it had been awarded $886,642 from the Proposition 84 California River Parkways Program, which is aimed at protecting and restoring riparian and river habitat.

“We are very excited to receive this grant award. We’re looking forward to putting the taxpayers’ funds to good use,” park district board member Kate O’Brien said.

“We firmly believe (the planned) improvements will lead to more use of the arroyo by the public for both recreation and commuting and will help increase awareness of the arroyo’s environmental importance to local wildlife.”

The project has several goals, including improving air and water quality and enhancing the natural river habitat.

But the overall mission is to make the flood channel that runs through Simi Valley more attractive and accessible, a place where residents can walk, run, bike or ride horses, or it can serve as an alternate way to get around town.

To achieve this, the multiphase project will realign and extend the existing trail, develop trailhead areas, provide pedestrian and bike bridges and overlooks at key locations as well as additional rest and picnic areas, and install interpretive exhibits.

Because of the size and scope of the project—which is estimated to cost $60 million and take decades to complete—grant funds are vital to make the vision for the arroyo a reality.

The Arroyo Simi Greenway, a cooperative effort between RSRPD, the City of Simi Valley and the Ventura County Watershed Protection District, is one of 33 proposed river parkway projects statewide that received a total of $34 million in Prop. 84 grant funds from the California Natural Resources Agency.

“The arroyo can truly become a valuable quality-of-life amenity for our current residents and well into the future for our kids and the next generation,” City Councilmember Steve Sojka said upon learning that the park district’s grant application had been successful.

This isn’t the first time the district fought for and won a piece of the money pie.

In September 2010, the first phase of the project was one of 31 that were selected to receive Prop. 84 funds. As it did this time, the park district secured the full amount it requested: $802,275. At the time it was the largest grant ever won by the park district.

Since this was the second and final round of monies being awarded through the state’s competitive Prop. 84 grant program, the park district and the city will have to look for other funding options. But for now they can continue moving forward on the project.

Phase 1 included paving two miles of the existing trail along the south side of the Arroyo Simi, from Erringer Road to Sequoia Avenue, and constructing 16 new entrances and interpretive exhibits and signage along the entire 12-mile length of the greenway.

The city and the park district pledged $100,000 each in matching funds for phase 1, bringing the total for the initial stage to just over $1 million.

The park district will use the recent grant award to fund phase 2 of the greenway project. This time, RSRPD has pledged $167,000 toward phase 2, while the city has pledged $150,000 to install traffic signals at crossings over the Arroyo Simi.

Phase 2 of the project includes constructing 1.67 miles of new paved trail along the south side of the greenway, from Erringer Road to First Street and from Madera Road to Stargaze Place.

“ Once both phase 1 and phase 2 are completed, there will be a continuous trail link along the Arroyo Simi across the complete urban core of Simi Valley,” said Ed Hayduk, assistant general manager for the park district.

In addition, three new easyto access trail entries will be built at the northwest and southwest entrance on Madera Road and at the Stargaze Place trailhead.

New signalized crossings will be installed at three places where the trail intersects with major streets: the west side of the Royal Avenue intersection, the south side of the Sycamore Drive intersection and the south side of the Erringer Road intersection. Directional signs and educational interpretive exhibits will also be installed.

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