The only consensus to come from the meeting about the Catalina Highway Memorial Bicycle Trailhead on Monday night is that there is little consensus about the project.
The Pima County Transportation Department hosted an informational meeting and discussion about its proposal to put the trailhead at MacDonald Park, near Harrison and Snyder roads.
For the most part, the cyclists that spoke still want to put the trailhead at the original location, or at least along Catalina Highway.
The residents who live near the original location came to the meeting to make sure the old site was still off the table.
Residents near MacDonald Park say the park isn’t the right spot because of safety concerns for cyclists and pedestrians, and space use concerns at the park.
The meeting started with Pima County’s transportation director Priscilla Cornelio, describing the history of the project and explaining that the original site was dead because they did not have the money to provide the facilities the site needed.
Cornelio said the project came in $50,000 more than they had budgeted and said it would have been $100,000 more to put in bathrooms.
Because of the cost, she said they decided to go back to square one and restart the evaluation process. MacDonald Park is the only solution they came up with after reviewing several locations.
Cornelio did not mention the complaints from the neighbors in the area.
Carlo DiPilato, who is the project manager for the proposed MacDonald Park trailhead, presented the plan for the site. (download the site plan).
DiPilato said if the MacDonald Park project moves ahead, it will cost $80,000 – $100,000 and will be completed in four months.
Residents who live in the area expressed concern for their safety as well as cyclists’ safety because of the lack of bike lanes and the high school students who drive in the area to get to Sabino High School.
Cornelio said they applied for federal grants to build bike lanes along Harrison to make it safer for cyclists. The grants are independent of the project and may or may not get funded regardless of whether the trailhead is located at the park.
Several homeowners asked whether the original site was indeed dead. Both Cornelio and Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll assured them the trailhead would not be located at the original site.
Cyclist Scott Audilet asked if Agua Caliente Park had been considered as a location for the trailhead.
Cornelio said Agua Caliente wasn’t considered because it was outside their search location. Carroll said they would look into it as an alternative.
Another cyclist who spoke during the meeting said it appeared the county was trying to hide the trailhead in an existing park and the memorial should be seen by drivers on Catalina Highway.
Listen to the exchange between the cyclists and Carroll below.[audio:http://www.bicycletucson.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/caroll-2.mp3]
A local resident who spoke during the meeting wondered why there was a need for a trailhead at all and noted that cyclists already park where they feel comfortable parking.
“If the problem is not broken, why do we have to fix it?” he asked.
Various people suggested getting rid of the parking aspect of the trailhead to make it a memorial and regrouping area for cyclists to rest and recuperate before returning to where they parked their cars.
Eventually, Jean Gorman spoke to the audience about the trailhead.
“I want to thank everybody for coming, whether you were for the original trailhead, or you are for this area or if you are for nothing at all,” Gorman said. “You have to think about people’s individuals needs, and what they look for. My point at a meeting like this is you never get everybody to agree all the time, but we need improvements, we need facilities.”
She was shouted at by the residents when she said the original location would have been as invisible to the neighbors as possible.
“We just have to get along with each other, there are needs,” Gorman said. “If this does not work tonight, I’ve been told the community gets nothing. So you go home with nothing and some say, ‘Ha, ha, ha — good that is just what I wanted was nothing,’ but there are needs.”
Carroll said doing nothing was an option.
“If people come away and don’t want anything, then that is what they will get,” Caroll said. “We are happy to accommodate that.”
“I’m afraid we will end up with nothing,” Gorman said when asked after the meeting if she supported the MacDonald Park trailhead. “That is a shame. I don’t know what to think.”
The county asked for people to fill out a comment form and turn it into the county, which Cornelio said she would forward to me after a report had been written from the comments.
Cornelio said she was surprised by the strong feelings on both sides and said they will look through all the comments before they proceed.
Read the other posts about the trailhead:
- County to host public meeting on trailhead
- BAC will revisit Mt. Lemmon trailhead
- Trailhead process ‘unusual’ Supervisor says
- BAC to investigate options for trailhead
- Pima DOT director discusses trailhead