Under the proposal, Lodato Park’s 1.2-mile loop trail through the redwoods off Green Hills Road on the eastern side of Scotts Valley would be connected with trails on the 31-acre property of Chuck Blair, a lifelong Scotts Valley resident and folk artist.
The two sets of trails would be joined by a quarter-mile easement through land owned by the nonprofit Sundean Foundation, after the foundation which is enthusiastic about the project, agrees.
As part of the plan, which is awaiting a vote by the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, the county would take responsibility for public use of the trails, all of which are in unincorporated areas, indemnifying both Blair and the Sundean Foundation.
According to Scotts Valley Recreation Division Manager Conrad Sudduth, the city’s recreation commission floated the idea of connecting the two trail systems about a year ago and was pleasantly surprised at how receptive Blair was to the idea — even offering to help build and maintain the connection.
“He’s a very giving kind of guy,” Sudduth said. “We’re really excited about the project.”
Blair, whose parents bought the property in 1946 and operated an apple farm there until the 1970s, said he cut the two miles of trails on his property about 40 years ago and has maintained them ever since, adding handmade benches along the way.
The paths, Blair said, offer a terrific view of the Monterey Bay on a clear day.
“It’s going to make a pretty nice trail,” Blair said. “We’ve been thinking about (connecting the trails with the city park) for quite a while.”
He said hikers already often find their way over to his trails from Lodato Park’s existing 1.2-mile trail loop, and having the county assume responsibility for the hikers is a benefit for him, given the unpredictability of nature.
“Our trails are pretty well-maintained,” Blair said. “I’m always out there working.”
At its Nov. 2 meeting, the Scotts Valley City Council agreed to take on temporary responsibility while the trail connection is surveyed and constructed.
At the meeting, Jack Sohriakoff, a member of the Scotts Valley Sportsmen’s Club, offered the club’s help on the trail connection to ensure that hikers would be clear of the club’s target-shooting range, which is on another portion of the Sundean property.
Sudduth described the project as an unqualified win for the community, as it will cost taxpayers nothing to build and is being done through cooperation between the municipal governments and individuals.
The plan waits only for the county’s final approval for the easement and assumption of the responsibility for hikers, Sudduth said.
“We would love to see it open by next summer,” he said.
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