Public weighs in on plans for Oro Valley trail

ORO VALLEY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) The public got the chance to learn more about a proposed trail in Oro Valley on Monday night.

Plans for the Big Wash trail include a 1.2 mile dirt path with a trailhead at the southwest corner of Rancho Vistoso Boulevard and Big Wash. According to Pima County officials, the new trail will be accessible to hikers, cyclists and equestrians.

Other improvements include the following: 

  • Parking lot with 64 spaces.
  • Dust-free surface for public parking and access.
  • Restrooms with low-level lighting and a drinking fountain.
  • Shaded seating.

The development will provide public access to Arizona State Trust Land and connect to the town's trail system.

The public information meeting was held Monday at Icagen Inc. on Innovation Park Drive in Oro Valley. Town leaders and Pima County officials were on hand to answer questions and hear concerns.

Among the crowd were members of the Oro Valley High School Mountain Bike Club. Coach Cody Martin says the new trail would give the 45 students on the team a safer, more effective way to practice. With a new trailhead, Martin says the team can avoid using major roads.

"This would give us a dedicated place to park, to get set up and ready to go," Martin said. "And to leave from the parking lot out on the trail, get a good long practice in without putting the kids in danger."

Last year public access to the Honey Bee trailhead was closed after private property issues, said Mark Flint a trail coordinator with Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation

The Big Wash trail has been in the works for years, Flint said, but with the closure of Honey Bee the new trail became a high priority. 

While the Big Wash trail is a welcome addition for some, neighbors in the area raised concerns Monday. Marge Brown and Annette Munoz live in the development closest to the trail off of Rancho Vistoso Boulevard. 

Motorized vehicles like ATV's and dirt bikes will not be allowed on the new trail, but Brown is worried they won't stay off.

"It can be noisy, therefore I feel it's just not anything that should be put in this locality," Brown said.

Munoz says she's concerned there will be more people going through their quiet community. 

"It makes me worry about crime coming," Munoz said. "Because we’ve been a very safe neighborhood for a long, long time. That’s my number one concern."

Flint says the county and town are taking into account comments from all members of the public, not just neighbors, and will see what changes need to be made.

"It’s understandable to be a little concerned about something coming in to your neighborhood, but the use is already happening and what we are attempting to do is manage that in a way to protects resources," Flint said. 

There are a lot of major ecological sites in the area, Flint said, and building a trail is a way to make sure people aren't going off on their own paths and causing damage.

The planning and approval for the trail was done in 1987, according to county leaders, and is part of the Planned Area Development in Rancho Vistoso. 

Construction is set to begin the weekend of October 29th and was arranged by Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists. The work will largely be done by volunteers.

The group also helped fund the project, along with the town of Oro Valley and Pima County.

Here more information on the Big Wash trail.

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