Residents fear traffic woes from park upgrades 

Although pleased with a compromise plan for improvements to parts of Sugarloaf Mountain and Laurelwood Park, neighbors still fear the changes could bring increased traffic, parking trouble and hazards.

Although a $6.2 million master plan approved Tuesday night will upgrade playground and restroom facilities and help prevent erosion by giving visitors dedicated trails to use, neighbors feel that easier access will mean greater usage.

Shasta Drive resident Dorel Hassidoff said the city will need to limit the speed of traffic in front of his home if park visitors increase.

"We’re going to need them to install speed bumps," he said. "We have a lot of dogs and a lot of little kids running around."

The city will also need to look at increased police presence in the park at night, resident Laura Agarwal said. Agarwal, who said she can hear shouting and smell smoke from people in the park at night, added that the area has also become a popular spot for "romantic trysts" for local youths.

In addition to trail improvements, the project will upgrade facilities including the playground and restrooms at Laurelwood Park. The playground improvements were the original impetus for the management plan’s formation more than two years ago.

The plan also calls for the development of a series of vegetation-free "fire breaks," to protect surrounding homes from fires in the park.

The "minimalist" plan is a compromise between the city’s desire to dedicate trails to prevent erosion and the residents’ wish that the park remain untouched and wild.

In the management plan, the city will build two dedicated hiking trails through the park and up Sugarloaf. Visitors currently make their own paths or use bulldozed fire breaks.

"Doing improvements on Sugarloaf Mountain may attract more people, but they’ll have less of an impact on the environment than if we leave it alone, because right now people make their own trails along the mountain and that leads to erosion," Mayor Jack Matthews said.

E-mail Jason Goldman-Hall at jgoldman@examiner.com.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

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