Mad River Union
MCKINLEYVILLE – Some McKinleyville residents want to spruce up the town’s main entrances, landscape them, make them safer and create more trail connections.
These and other transportation issues were discussed at the Jan. 30 meeting of the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McKMAC) and will most assuredly be discussed further by the committee in the coming months.
More than 35 people showed up at the Jan. 30 meeting. What began as a conversation about some landscape improvements at the town’s entrances quickly evolved, with suggestions the town update its long-term road and trail plans and have a prioritized list of projects that Humboldt County Public Works could use to secure funding.
McKMAC vice chair Kevin Jenkins asked to put the item on the agenda. He noted that the entrances into McKinleyville, such as School and Murray roads, are shabby looking and sometimes overrun with weeds.
“It’s a beautiful community, but these entrances are not usually the best side of our town,” Jenkins said.
School Road, in particular, is a source of frustration in the unincorporated community. In 2014, the County of Humboldt completed a project that included a roundabout with vegetated area in the middle, and sidewalks with areas for landscaping. But landscaping was never installed and, over the summer, the area was thick with weeds. The grass went uncut.
“It just looked really ratty,” said McKMAC chair Kevin Dreyer, who pointed out that there were parts of Murray Road that were full of bushes extending out into the shoulders.
Also, the sidewalk on Central Avenue north of Railroad Drive was “just horrible with weeds,” Dreyer said.
Pot money to the rescue?
Jenkins said he has had discussions with Humboldt County Public Works about using Measure S money to help pay for landscaping and maintenance for the town’s main entry ways.
Measure S is the Marijuana Cultivation Tax passed by voters in 2016. Growers are taxed based on the square footage of their growing areas.
Fifth District Supervisor Steve Madrone told the committee that the county had estimated that it would collect $4 million this fiscal year, but received $10 million.
There’s an additional $7 million in pot tax being disputed in a legal fight.
Dreyer suggested that $300,000 should go to McKinleyville for the landscaping project. Madrone pledged to help the town secure the funding.
Colin Fiske and others in attendance suggested that rather than just focusing on landscaping, the community should look at additional trails, trail connections and traffic calming measures.
Committee members and people in the audience shared some of the stretches of roadway in the county that need to be made more pedestrian friendly, including Central Avenue between Bella Vista and Turner roads, Central Avenue north of Airport Road and Dow’s Prairie Road.
Committeemember Ben Shepherd said that McKinleyville should probably update its road and trail plans, which are included in the town’s growth blueprint, the McKinleyville Community Plan in a section called the Circulation Element. The Board of Supervisors approved the plan in 2002.
Committee member Greg Orsini said that if the town had a list of transportation projects that it desires, it could provide it to Humboldt County Public Works Director Tom Mattson, who sits on the Humboldt County Association of Governments’ Technical Advisory Committee.
That committee makes recommendations regarding transportation funding.
McK Trail Collective
Mary Burke told the committee about a new group called the McKinleyville Trail Collective, which is looking at ways to expand and connect trails in McKinleyville.
The group is hoping to obtain a grant to do trail planning in town.
The group will have a meeting on Thursday, March 14 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the McKinleyville Library, 1606 Pickett Rd., McKinleyville.
John Corbett, who had resigned from the committee Jan. 30 but was still serving as the chair, said that the committee should continue to foster its relationship with Public Works.
“I do want to say we’re dealing with mixed government here because we’re not incorporated, but the close relationship with Public Works has got us involved with having them help plan certain safety things...” Corbett said. “We have a real opportunity to continue to develop that, and they [Public Works] sort of like it that there’s a committee that really likes what they’re doing.”