President’s Message – December 2008
After several years of relative quiet on issues relating to the park, the first six months of 2008 have seen a flurry of activity on several fronts. New information signs have been installed at the kiosk and Porter gate parking areas, the developers of the Aptos Village plan presented their latest proposals, and an agreement was reached to provide access to Nisene Marks through the Koch property adjacent to Cabrillo Collage. On top of that, the “Good Times” named Nisene Marks as the best hike in Santa Cruz for 2008.
New Information Signs Installed
Culminating a four year effort, the new information signs have been installed at the kiosk andnew sign Porter gate parking areas. The idea for the signs was first proposed in 2004 by long-time Nisene docents Ed Gilbert, now an Advocates Board member, and Jim Toney. The Advocates Board subsequently authorized $7,000 to fund the project. Unfortunately, due to personnel changes and higher priority projects within State Parks, the project suffered from some starts and stops. Finally in 2007 State Parks interpretive ranger, Linda Hitchcock, contracted Wildways Illustrated to complete the design and construction of the signs. Ed worked closely with Linda and Wildways to make his vision a reality. Great work, Ed!
Aptos Village Plan Impacts Parking for Nisene Marks
On February 21st at the Seacliff Inn, the County Planning Dept. in conjunction with representatives from developer Barry Swenson presented their latest version of the Aptos Village Plan. The plan envisions seventeen new structures, for commercial and residential use, on the vacant land adjacent to the Aptos Creek fire road. Many of the visitors to Nisene use a portion of this area as an unofficial parking area. The developers are aware of this use and have allocated space for twenty two parking places near the enterence to Nisene. However, these spaces are not dedicated for visitors to Nisene so there will be competition for these spots from shoppers and residents of the village. The Planning Dept. representative said that public hearings will be held in the next few months that will provide the opportunity for groups and individuals to provide their feedback. It was hoped that the hearing process and County Board of Supervisors approval would be completed by late fall and that construction could begin in 2009.
To the Advocates Board members who attended the presentation it was clear that, once this development is completed, visitors to Nisene will have a much more difficult time finding parking space in the village area. Ultimately, this will have a significant impact on the limited parking resources within Nisene. After some discussion between members of the Advocates Board of Directors, it was decided that a letter be sent to State Parks District Supervisor, Chet Bardo, to express our concerns and encourage him to work with the Planning Department and the developers to provide assistance in upgrading the parking facilities within Nisene.
Agreement Reached on Access to Nisene Through Koch Property
The Koch property, 142 acres of undeveloped land between Cabrillo Collage and the western edge of Nisene Marks, has been used for years by local residents to access the Vienna Woods trail and the unofficial “scout” trail near the Soquel Water District Tank. In February, after a 10-year struggle between the land owner and the local advocacy group, Nisene2Sea, the County Planning Department gave its approval for the construction of a single family dwelling next to the water tank and subdividing the remaining 140 for future development. In April, Supervisor Ellen Pirie initiated negotiations with the developer which resulted in an agreement to allow a public easement through the property to the Vienna Woods trailhead. If and when the land is developed, County parks would take responsibility for the trail between Cabrillo and Nisene Marks. While this agreement ensures future access to Nisene from Cabrillo, it also means the loss of the excellent viewpoint from the top of the hill near the water tank which was accessible from the “scout” trail.
Bridge To Marcel’s Forest Needs Additional Funding
The Federal Recreational Trails grant to build a permanent bridge and an ADA accessible trailadvocates work crew across Aptos Creek to Marcel’s Forest does not provide enough funds to complete the project. Jack Kirchner, State Parks District Maintenance Supervisor, surveyed the area earlier this year and determined that, because of rising costs since the grant was submitted in 2004, additional funding will be required to complete the project. However, Jack was optimistic that additional funding could be obtained through a State program. Currently, the Advocates trail work volunteers install a seasonal bridge every spring and remove it in the fall leaving the Marcel’s Forest area inaccessible to many park visitors during the winter months.
Mangels Trail Opening Evaluated
At the last Advocates Board meeting in November, a request was made to State Parks to evaluate the possibility of opening up the trail surrounding the Mangels property. The trail, which surrounds the private property on the east side of the fire road prior to the kiosk area, was added to Nisene Marks in 1998. Since then, due to delays caused by issues related to the Nisene Marks general plan, the trail has been off limits to park users and has fallen in to disrepair with overgrowth and fallen trees. With the impending development of Aptos Village, which includes plans for residential apartment units, the Mangels trail offers the opportunity for a great hiking experience a short walk from the village, In response to the Advocates request, Jack Kirchner did survey of the Mangels area to evaluate the possibility of opening up at least a portion of the trail that leads up to the Hawk Ridge viewpoint. Jack feels that opening a portion of the trail is do-able and will assess the resources needed to get the trail in usable condition.
—Paul Ticknor, President, Board of Directors