Neighborhood Assist

City Dump Becomes Community Park.

To improve health and appreciation for the outdoors by transforming a city dump into a community park.

The Ukiah Valley is an area of great beauty and great poverty. The median income for residents is less than two thirds the state average. Ironically, despite the great natural beauty of the area, youth of the area are in the bottom quartile in the state in terms of living within walking distance of a park or playground. The area has low rates of adult walking and correspondingly high rates of obesity and diabetes. The Ukiah Valley is bisected by the Russian River and residents on the east side of the Russian River do not have a single park. Despite having thousands of acres of privately owned undeveloped land to the east of them, the closest park is over two miles away and the closest hiking trail is over three miles away. Although the residents of this area are surrounded by vistas of great beauty, it's a "look, don't touch" situation. The closest publically owned land is the old dump. This project will transform the old dump site into a park with trails.

This project will utilize a combination of paid and volunteer labor to create a parking lot and three to four miles of hiking and mountain biking trail. The capped area of old dump will remain off limits but the adjacent city owned land has adequate acreage to allow for a small trail system in a passive use park. An existing dirt road will be used to allow trail users to climb to a view point with vistas out across the valley. A new loop trail will be built as a secondary route to the top and a loop trail will be built around the perimeter of the property. The nonprofit Ukiah Valley Trail Group will provide volunteer labor and trail design and maintenance expertise. The local chapters of the CA Native Plant Society and the Audubon Society will help provide verbiage for educational signs that will be placed along the trails. The area is centrally located on the east side of the Valley and most residents will be within walking distance of the property.

Properly designed and constructed trails require little maintenance and can last for generations. There are trails in Northern CA that are over one hundred years old and trails in Europe that are approaching a thousand years old. With gentle, easily traversable grades both young and old can enjoy the trails. "If a child is to keep alive his inborn healthy sense of wonder," wrote Rachel Carson, he or she "needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in." This area of trails will provide a place for children to explore and learn, for adults to stay active and relax, and for grandparents to keep alive their healthy sense of wonder. With more undeveloped property to the east of this property, it is possible that our children will be obtaining the easements that allow them to expand the trails for their children to explore even further.