Mount Shasta city manager Paul Eckert will participate in an intergovernmental committee to develop a trail that would link the cities of Weed, Mount Shasta, and Dunsmuir.

The city of Mount Shasta can look forward to several trail and transit developments introduced by the Active Transportation Committee during Monday’s regular city council meeting.

“I want to say congratulations to the mayor and council that everything on your table is consistent with our strategic plan and are all long-term, visionary items,” city manager Paul Eckert said at the end of a meeting full of enthusiastic support and unanimous voting from council.

A special presentation and all items on the agenda related to making the city more beautiful and pedestrian friendly.

Midtown Trail project

Renee Casterline of the Active Transportation Committee gave a presentation on the Midtown Trail project; council approved a resolution designating two locations on South Mount Shasta Boulevard for bus stops; the city manager received permission to participate in an intergovernmental ad hoc committee to develop a trail that would connect Mount Shasta to Weed and Dunsmuir; and council approved a budget to fund acquisition rights for some portions of the Midtown Trail.

The Midtown Trail “is a route through town... that invites walking, riding and boarding, to connect people to places,” explained Casterline. The segment of the trail that will serve Mount Shasta runs on the East side of I-5, starting in Abram’s Lake and stretches south to Highway 89, with spur trails that lead to points of interest such as parks, trailheads, schools and the downtown area. “It’s designed to accommodate low skill level riders and walkers who are looking for a low stress path,” Casterline said.

She explained that, “the goals of the Midtown Trail are to connect... important elements in town and make walking and cycling more attractive to residents by creating a friendly, inviting route.”

The trail is being designed with the safety of seniors, independent toddlers, and parents with strollers in mind.

Casterline added that bike lanes that travel through residential areas will be made more attractive with street treatments. “Elements are added.. whether it’s vegetation in terms of creating more of that open green space, or in some cases they’ll add small playgrounds for kids or picnic tables. The kinds of things that encourage the residents to have more of a presence outside of their homes.”

Looking at a bigger picture, the ATC hopes the Midtown Trail will also connect to the neighboring cities of Weed and Dunsmuir and complement pedestrian paths that are already established.

“Oftentimes when you look at the larger picture, the CEQA costs are less than they are for smaller pieces,” said council member Tim Stearns in regard to the extension of the trail into Weed and Dunsmuir. “There’s also the possibility of getting grant funds for larger projects rather than smaller projects, sometimes. In addition to that, with the vision, you want to be able to secure land rights when they’re still available,” he added.

Following the presentation, council passed two related resolutions: one granting permission for the city manager to participate in an ad hoc committee focused on connecting Mount Shasta to Weed and Dunsmuir via trail; the other providing the ATC with what Eckert referred to as, “a conservative budget of $15,000,” to acquire legal access for some portions of the Midtown Trail. Public works director Rod Bryan was absent from the meeting, so the agenda items were presented by city manager Eckert and Michael Williams of the ATC.

Eckert said that finance director Muriel Terrell, also absent from the meeting, had approved the budget.

Williams said some landowners have offered donations of easements, including John Kennedy Sr. and Crystal Geyser, which would lower the overall cost.

Council approved a resolution designating two locations for bus stops on South Mount Shasta Boulevard. The locations are at the Berryvale parking lot and adjacent to Water Street on the other side. Williams explained that these are prime locations due to proximity to street lights.

Public comments

Public comments included questions about water conservation, transients in Parker Plaza, and the wastewater treatment plant. Doug Blackwell asked about the development of a water conservation committee and commended the public works department for the improvement in the new 3,000 Kelvin streetlights.

Dan Yelper, owner of Halford’s Antiques, asked the city to close Parker Plaza until it can take over ownership of the property. He claimed that the transient occupation of that park is negatively affecting his business.

Roslyn McCoy requested an update on the wastewater treatment plant upgrade and suggested the city hold off on buying the equipment necessary to read the new water meters until additional funding can be procured.

Shasta Yama festival founder Mario Rubino thanked the city manager for his assistance in obtaining a permit to hold the event in Shastice Park again this year and expressed gratitude for the continued support from the city.

In response, Eckert said, “the public works director is, in fact, facilitating the city’s ad hoc water conservation committee. [They] intend to develop appropriate responses to the governor’s [drought] directives, develop an appropriate and reasonable strategy for public education, and develop policy recommendations for enforcement to ensure adequate water for consumption and fire flows.” He added that the committee will provide an update at the next council meeting on April 27.

Regarding the water meter installation project, Eckert said the city is “doing well and ahead of schedule.” He noted that receiving 100% funding for such a large project is extremely rare, and that the excess cost of $200,000 might be reduced by additional funding.

As far as transients in Parker Plaza, Eckert said that the police department is patrolling the park on foot on a daily basis.

“Everything should be on the agenda for the next council meeting for us to be able to have those ordinances that will allow for greater enforcement,” he said. He added that the Mountain Runners are contemplating replacing the grass from the park with “something attractive” in an effort to conserve water and deter transients from lying there with dogs.

Council member Jeffrey Collings responded to a concern expressed at the last city council meeting about the possibility of smart power meters being installed in the alley behind Chestnut Street. “They are not smart meters, however they are drive by meters,” Collings said.

Mayor Geoff Harkness gave an update on the wastewater treatment plant. “The feasibility study did go to peer review and was accepted without any changes, to my understanding,” he said, “and that plan is now in environmental review.”

For future agenda items, Stearns requested to finalize the land transfer of Centennial Park, the strip of land behind the Black Bear Diner, which has been left on the back burner for the past 15 years. Eckert said that it would be introduced some time in May, after they have had a chance to examine the background and investigate alternatives.