In the crowded City Council chambers, where one felt relieved by a gust of fresh air when someone entered or exited the room, the (relatively) clean air and green spaces of the Arroyo Seco were the main topic of discussion.
By Garrett Rowlan
Following opening remarks by former mayor Bill Bogaard, speakers from Rios Clementi Hale Studios, who had studied the One Arroyo project, presented an ambitious plan to “develop”—a word that has a suspicious ring to some—the 22 miles of the Arroyo Trail, in particular the area around the Rose Bowl.
The project would feature new amenities, including restrooms, trails, habitat restoration, bike trails, and appropriate signage. Pains were taken to consult previous documentation concerning the area so that the “One Arroyo Trails” was not approached “as a tabula rasa.” The palimpsest of human hands included the Native Americans who had used and shaped those trails prior to the arrival of “latecomers,” as Bogaard phrased it. The bywords of the visionary project were “connect,” “enhance,” and “inspire.”
All very good, but in the questions and ruminations of the Council members it was obvious that there were issues to be answered, or at least raised.
Concerns over the Arroyo
Cost is one. Grant writing is proposed, but the specter of signage and the potential commercialization of the Arroyo was a concern. Council member Steve Madison got applause when he expressed concern over the “privatization of the Arroyo.” Many speakers approved the vision, but many stressed the Arroyo’s environmental significance, and how best to maintain it. How would the project mesh with previous approved—and languishing, in some instances—projects? Tim Brick, Arroyo Seco Foundation‘s Managing Director, expressed his concerns by declaring he’s heard it all before. Also, discussion centered on funds; would the exploratory money be given to the Rose Bowl Operating Committee (RBOC), or would the Pasadena Department of Public Works be more mindful of the area’s diverse past?
In the end, the Council approved and appropriated $100,000 to the RBOC from the general fund to begin a project that will take a generation and have moving parts. Mayor Terry Tornek viewed the project with a culinary metaphor. “Let it cook,” he said, suggesting a low boil of years of compromise and corroboration were ahead.
Landmarks and more
In open session, concerns were expressed concerning the possible reconfiguration of Orange Grove Boulevard, and the slowness of the bus service. Also, two sites were designated as Landmarks, 139 South Los Robles and 580 Arbor.
The adoption of a resolution approving an extension of the deadline to initiate development of affordable housing at the city’s Heritage Square, and Accessory Dwelling Units were also discussed. (View full video).
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