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Feather River park project takes shape
Yuba City officials are still optimistic the first phase of the Feather River Parkway-Willow Island project will begin taking shape this year.
The final barrier continues to be permitting approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Fish and Game, which is expected within a month. It is the only obstacle standing in the way of proceeding with the project for pedestrian and cycling trails, picnic areas, education signs and other amenities in the river bottoms east of Market Street and north of the 10th Street bridge.
Yuba City and Sutter County Resource Conservation District officials toured the mostly wild area of the park Thursday with the grant administrator to discuss the status of the project.
"This has been a long and difficult project for many reasons," said Larry Lloyd, manager of the conservation district. "We are very happy that we have been working with our partners with the city and the team has had the perseverance to get past the challenges ... The construction phase is right around the corner."
Looking out toward the river through the trees, grass and debris, Lloyd said he was able to imagine the final project better than ever before.
"It looks like a template that is ready for construction," he said. "It's going to create a recreational opportunity for residents in the proximity right there close to downtown. And it's going to help the community with health issues and obesity issues."
Proposed improvements also include parking, a pavilion, sports fields, a boardwalk and a beach landing. The project also includes public educational displays and interpretive signs to describe wildlife and habitats.
"This gives the public an opportunity to go down and actually experience the river itself and the riparian habitat," Lloyd said. "It will preserve that habitat in a park-like setting."
The city was awarded a $1.4 million grant several years ago to fund the first phase of the project, which is about 80 acres. The city has applied for $1.7 million in grants for the second phase and is waiting for announcement of the awards.
Brad McIntire, the city's director of parks and recreation, remains optimistic about the project, though it has been sitting at the ready for years. He has gotten positive indications in recent weeks from the Army Corps and Fish and Game.
"I see light at the end of the tunnel," McIntire said.
A few design changes have been made, including elimination of a disc golf course and rearranging amenities to minimize environmental impact. Once permitting is complete, the City Council can approve the project and send it out to bid.
The project would take three months to complete, weather permitting, McIntire said.
A major focus is woodland restoration and preservation. One of the first steps will be to improve visibility and reduce fire danger.
"It has to be a place where people feel safe to come," he said. "To do that, the trails and everything need to have a line of sight."
Then the project can proceed with installation of amenities. There also has to be extensive outreach to the homeless population residing in the area, McIntire said.
"It's going to be a great opportunity for the city to use that park land and for people to be educated on the environment and the river," he said. "It looks rough right now, but I think it would be pretty cool for kids and adults to go down there and learn something."
Residents will be able to access the park via the levee bike trail or by way of Lamon Way.