This month the Nest project along the Clarksburg Branch Line Trail in West Sacramento moved a lot closer to completion.
The West Sacramento City Council unanimously approved a license to allow Assemble Sacramento, the all-volunteer organization behind the project, to build the small park improvement for trail users just south of Lake Washington Blvd. SABA is the project's fiscal sponsor, responsible for processing donations as well as bookkeeping and accounting.
The trail runs along the old Clarksburg Branch Line Railroad right-of-way between West Sacramento and Clarksburg. The first 1.25 miles of paved trail opened in 2014. The City of West Sacramento owns the entire right-of-way all the way to Clarksburg, and is currently seeking grant funding to pave more of it.
The Nest will be a fenced enclosure with several small tables and fixed chairs, a shade structure, water fountain and landscaping. The name and design are meant to recall the habitat of water birds native to the area.
In addition to being the first park improvement along the trail, the project is unique because it will be a public amenity built by the City with funds raised privately by Assemble Sacramento.
A similar public-private approach was used to build privately funded playground improvements in the Bridgeway Island neighborhood in West Sacramento. The public-private model enables the City to use public funds for park improvements in underserved neighborhoods in the north part of West Sacramento.
We know from multi-use trails around the nation that improvements like this one will attract more people to use the trail, improving its value for recreation, transportation and the environment. And as we’ve seen elsewhere, bringing more activity to this location will make this section of the trail that much safer for everyone. The design of the Nest reflects the principles of crime prevention through environmental design, an approach to facility design that emphasizes visibility, accessibility and activity.
In response to concerns about the location and design raised by parents of students at Our Lady of Grace School, located across the trail from the Nest site, Assemble Sacramento modified the design and also agreed to pay for relocating school playground equipment away from the trail and building a ball wall and planting trees to block views of the playground.
Our region has dozens of public parks located directly next to schools. At Bridgeway Island Elementary School in West Sacramento, a public park facility similar to the Nest is located along the west end of the school's unfenced playing field. At Blue Oaks Park in Roseville, a branch of the Pleasant Grove Creek Trail runs through at a Nest-like gathering area next to the Blue Oaks Elementary School's playground. In South Natomas, the Bannon Creek Parkway trail runs directly behind Bannon Creek and Jefferson elementary schools. In fact, most of the public parks in South Natomas are located directly next to schools.
The Nest likely won't be the only improvement for trail users in this area. Other groups have proposed installing a rose garden and a picnic area for horseback riders directly next to the Nest site. Equestrians are authorized to use the Clarksburg trail.
Two years ago the Center for Land-Based Learning opened the 3.3-acre Lake Washington Farm and farmstand about 200 yards north of the Nest location. River City High School and neighboring West Sacramento Recreation Center are both located about 400 yards down the trail from the Nest site.