This is one of those only in Santa Cruz stories.
Only in this city could a bike path that will give access to a nature preserve to people in wheelchairs and a safe bike commuting route become the subject of ardent debate.
That's what happened Friday as city and county officials broke ground on the project at Arana Gulch, a 63-acre greenbelt above the upper Yacht Harbor, that is now crossed with dirt paths. The $4.9 million, two-mile project will pave an eight-foot-wide path through the preserve that will safely connect a trail for bicycles between Brommer Street and Broadway. They now have to cross the Murray Street Bridge, which is scheduled to be widened next year.
While some bicyclists were happy, others thought the trail and its construction would harm the ecosystem around one of the last undeveloped areas in the heart of Santa Cruz (see video). They were concerned that foxes and owls wouldn't be able to hunt and would be overwhelmed by the paving process.
The fight over the project has gone on for two decades. First people were concerned about a rare plant called Santa Cruz Tarplant, but when the designers kept trails away from the plant patches, it won enough support.
There are already complaints about the construction: trails were supposed to be kept open for joggers and walkers, however, with chain link fence blocking the old trail, they now lead through the endangered plants.
The path is supposed to be finished in several months.
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