El Toro Trail project on agenda next Tuesday - Morgan Hill Times: City Local Government

El Toro Trail project on agenda next Tuesday

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Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 5:12 pm

Update: The Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Tuesday night has been rescheduled as a workshop on the El Toro Trail Project, according to City staff. The full commission will not be present, because the City did not meet the deadlines to post the meeting to the public. The public is still encouraged to attend, and City staff will be present at the workshop, which is still scheduled for 7 p.m. at Council chambers, 17555 Peak Ave. 

The scheduled full agenda of the Planning Commission meeting for Tuesday night was canceled because the City did not meet deadlines to ensure the meeting was properly posted, according to City staff. However, a Planning Commission workshop on the El Toro Trail Project will 

The Morgan Hill Parks and Recreation commission next Tuesday will offer an update and discussion of the proposed El Toro Trail project, a subject which has become contentious among residents who live at the foot of the oddly shaped mountain.

The City’s El Toro Trail project is “envisioned as a multi-phased effort to provide a hiker-friendly trail to the summit of El Toro mountain,” Morgan Hill Associate Engineer David Gittleson said in an e-mail.

The project is proposed in the City’s five-year capital plan to be completed by 2014, but the purchase of more property - or a public easement through private property - is necessary for the project’s completion.

El Toro Mountain, known to longtime locals as Murphy’s Peak, is on the west side of Morgan Hill, and abuts the western ends of Main, Alkire, Dunne avenues and Via Grande.

The mountain is a popular destination for hikers, weekend warriors and outdoor enthusiasts in Morgan Hill and surrounding areas. It used to be the site of an annual group hike organized by the Morgan Hill Historical Society, which some years brought more than 100 hikers to the top in a long line that was visible from the other side of the valley.

The project as it’s currently outlined requires about $350,000 worth of property purchases. The city owns a large piece of the property on the eastern face of El Toro, toward the bottom of the hill, but the top of the mountain – the logical destination for anyone who chooses to start the climb – is private property.

The Santa Clara County Open Space Authority is taking the lead on property acquisition, which could initially include an easement agreement with the owners of private properties in the line of the trail.

The total projected cost for the project, including design, construction and the purchase of property, is about $820,000, and will be funded primarily by park impact fees and the open space fund.

Residents who live at the foot of El Toro worry about a city-sanctioned trail’s impact on the quiet neighborhood. The current trail already brings large crowds, traffic and litter to the streets, and some residents think if the City develops it as a recreational site these impacts will multiply.

The PRC is scheduled to discuss the project at its meeting 7 p.m. Jan. 15, at the City Council chambers at 17555 Peak Ave.

The commission will not make any decisions on the matter, but will be discussing its role in the project and inviting public participation, Gittleson said.

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