Thousand Oaks council votes to shoulder cost of community park

Published by Steve on

Work on Sapwi Trails to start soon

Source of this article, the Thousand Oaks Acorn, April 20, 2017

The City of Thousand Oaks is making good on a decade-old promise to help pay for a community park in the Lang Ranch area.

At its April 11 meeting, the City Council voted 5-0 to kick in $2.5 million from its general fund reserves toward the estimated $7-million cost of Sapwi Trails, a first-of-its-kind recreation area the Conejo Recreation and Park District is developing.

THE LANDSCAPE—CRPD’s Matt Kouba shows where a disc golf course will be located at Sapwi Trails Community Park off Avenida de Los Arboles.

The approximately 144-acre park—bordered on the west by Erbes Road, on the north by Avenida de Los Arboles and on the east by Westlake Boulevard—will largely remain in its natural state, but some infrastructure, including parking lots, restrooms, shade structures, picnic tables and a playground will be built on park grounds. Other changes will take place just off site, CRPD Administrator Tom Hare told the council.

“There won’t be a lot of grading or watering out there, so what you see (now) is pretty much what will be there,” Hare said. “In order to allow people into the park, we’re going to have some off-site improvements, like new traffic lights at Arboles and Kensington and Westlake and Rainfield.”

In 2007, the council set aside $5 million help build a previous iteration of the park that was to include lighted ball fields, tennis courts and a roller-hockey rink. That plan was scrapped in 2011 when CRPD discovered it would need to spend millions just to stabilize the land, which sits atop an ancient landslide area.

With the new, lower-impact design came a lower price tag, hence the smaller donation from the city.

“This is easy,” Councilmember Joel Price said of the city’s decision to support the project financially. “This is something everyone in the community will enjoy.”

Rather than hand over the money in one lump sum, the city will instead pay CRPD 50 percent of each invoice it presents to the city up to the $2.5-million maximum, according to the agreement struck last week.

The parks department will be responsible for any expenditures above that amount, said Jamie Boscarino, the city’s deputy finance director. Additionally, the city will take ownership of all off-site improvements, like the traffic signals.

Members of several special interest groups whose input led to the concept of Sapwi Trails came to the council meeting to speak in favor of the park.

“While recreational activities and parks are an outlet from stress of the very hectic world, they’re also an opportunity to connect with nature and reconnect with family and friends,” said Steve Miele of the Thousand Oaks Soaring Society.

The organization will maintain an area dedicated to flying nonmotorized gliders or sailplanes.

Kent Koral of Conejo Valley Cyclists said the local riding club will pitch in with developing the park’s bike trails.

“I’m surprised to see how many people are pulling together . . . this is local sweat that’s going to be putting this together,” Koral said. “Everybody is pulling their weight and I would implore you to vote for this funding. I think it would benefit the community and would be a great addition to what is already a great community.”

Additional capital improvements will include a pedestrian path along the length of the park on Westlake Boulevard, four bridges that cross Lang Creek and some stormwater containment projects.

The park district will begin taking bids on these projects next month, Boscarino said. Construction is expected to start in the summer, and CRPD expects the entire project to be finished by winter 2019.