Carr Lake Park project receives unanimous boost from Salinas City Council – Monterey Herald


SALINAS – After acquiring 73 acres of land in the heart of Salinas more than four years ago, the Big Sur Land Trust will take a giant step towards achieving its goal of turning part of the Carr Lake basin into an asset for the community as a park and open space now that city council has approved the project.

“We are delighted to move the Carr Lake project forward and are delighted to have the partnership of Big Sur Land Trust to initiate the start-up phase of the creation of a huge park in central Salinas,” said the mayor. from Salinas, Kimbley Craig. “It’s a fantastic use for this land, and I think the board is motivated to provide support in any way possible to make sure the project runs smoothly.”

Salinas City Council unanimously backed the resolution to adopt the mitigated negative statement for the Carr Lake Park project at its Tuesday meeting and approved the general plan change and site zoning.

“We are grateful to the Salinas City Council for unanimously and enthusiastically endorsing the project last Tuesday,” said Rachel Saunders, Director of Conservation for Big Sur Land Trust. “We are deeply inspired by the residents and community leaders who spoke so passionately about the project and the importance of this natural park to the health and well-being of their families and the community at large.”

The Big Sur Land Trust is proposing to build the park, which required amending the general plan amending the land use and traffic map, and rezoning the project site from “agricultural-flood overlay” to “park overlay- floods ”.

The proposed park would have a variety of amenities and recreational opportunities for the benefit of the community and would restore the land to riparian, freshwater marsh and upland habitat that would provide access to a natural environment for the community.

“The Carr Lake conversion has long been a vision for the city and was outlined in the 2002 General Plan,” said Craig. “This vision has also been incorporated into the 2015 Economic Development Component and is part of Vision Salinas.

Craig added that this vision for Carr Lake predated the 2002 general plan and was featured in many historical documents.

“Big Sur Land Trust really involved over 1,000 residents in the design of the park and worked with city staff to finally implement this vision long awaited by residents of Salinas,” said Craig.

The idea is to create a six-acre neighborhood park while the remaining 67 acres would be a restored and improved wetland with public and maintenance access via trails. The objective would include improving the quality of water through the improvement of natural physical and biological processes and the construction of green infrastructure for the treatment of storm water and the maintenance or improvement of the conveyance and water supply. the capacity of floods.

The proposed project would include an open space, walking trails, a playground, picnic tables, benches, playgrounds, a skating area, washrooms and a dog play area. A new structure would be built to be used as a community service space for things such as educational programs, community meetings, offices, equipment storage and additional toilets.

The mitigated negative statement adopted by Salinas City Council confirmed that the proposed environmental document is adequate for the proposed project and was necessary before general plan modification and rezoning could proceed.

Craig said that after the effective date of the zoning and general plan change, a site plan review to authorize the land use right will be administratively approved by planning staff, likely within 45 to 60 days. Classification permits and building permits will follow, subject to mitigation measures and other codes and regulations. Big Sur Land Trust will work on its construction documents and approval process and hopes to start construction by spring 2021.

“This is our first multi-benefit urban park project and we are deeply satisfied and touched by the opportunity to move a project like this forward,” Saunders said. “We are grateful to our volunteers, donors, private foundations and public funders for all their support. We would also like to thank our partners for their community engagement efforts, in particular the Center for Community Advocacy and the Return of the Natives of CSU Monterey Bay.

The Big Sur Land Trust closed the acreage in January 2017, marking the first step in realizing the city’s vision of a multi-benefit green space for residents of Salinas.

The process followed by the Big Sur Land Trust, the City of Salinas, community partners and residents has helped to establish a long-term plan that includes the results of scientific and technical studies for the improvement of the floodplains and the habitat so that the public can use the land safely.

“Then we move on to the design process,” Saunders said. “We will complete 50% design plans by the end of this calendar year and move to final design in 2022. We will also file a myriad of state and federal permits.”

Saunders added that the Big Sur Land Trust will need to raise the remaining funds. Approximately $ 21 million will be spent on the cost of permits, final design and construction of the traditional park, food court, and a new community service building.

The Big Sur Land Trust property is part of a larger 480 acres that forms the generally dry lake bed that historically fluctuated between a shallow lake or marshy wetlands before being drained in the early years. 1900 and dedicated to agriculture.

Before Carr Lake became farmland, it was the largest of the seven lakes that captured water from an upper watershed starting at Fremont Peak. Three main streams, Gabilan Creek, Natividad Creek, and Alisal Creek, cross Carr Lake.

Now the lake, which is an important part of a regional flood control system, empties into a reclamation ditch, which channels water into Tembladero Slough and ultimately Monterey Bay.

But now that the city has fully embraced the project, the Big Sur Land Trust can focus on the end goal of developing Carr Lake Park.

“Construction may need to be phased in depending on funding and the licensing process,” Saunders said. “Right now, the best case scenario would be that construction could start in mid-2023 and the entire park and restoration area would be completed and open by the end of 2025.”

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