By the Office of County Supervisor Joan Hartmann
On Tuesday morning, community leaders and neighbors gathered in front of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School (SYVUHS) for the groundbreaking of the Refugio Road Trails Restoration Project, a joint project between Santa Barbara County’s Public Works Department and the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade. This project features trails connecting SYVUHS and Samantha Drive along Refugio Road and includes opportunities for community members to participate in volunteer work days on October 1st and October 8th.
At the event Third District County Supervisor Joan Hartmann, whose office secured $250,000 in funding to complete this project as part of the safe-routes-to-school program,recognized community members Faith Deeter and Jessica Schley for their dedicated efforts to bring this trail to fruition. Deeter and Schley identified that the Refugio Road trailis mapped in the Santa Ynez Valley Community Plan and enlisted the support of neighboring schools and organizations including Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, the Dunn School, the YMCA, WeWatch, and the County Riding and Hiking Trails Advisory Committee towards its restoration. “I am pleased to launch this project on behalf of the community and neighbors who identified this as a priority-project for the Valley. Creating safe pathways for pedestrians, cyclists, and equestrians for commuting and recreation is a high priority for me,” said Supervisor Hartmann. SYVUHS Superintendent Andrew Schwab spoke at the event and also noted the importance of the trail for the safety of students walking and biking to school.
Abe Powell, co-founder and President of the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade spoke of the many benefits of community-led projects – referencing the trail projects the Bucket Brigade has completed in other regions of the County which, like this one, also featured volunteer work days, “When neighbors take direct action and participate in improving their own neighborhoods, a new level of connection and community pride is created. The trails we built in Montecito after the 1/9 Debris Flow have led to healthier, more connected and resilient neighborhoods.” Powell added that Refugio Road Trails Restoration is a project “for the community, by the community.”
Chris Sneddon, Deputy Director for Santa Barbara County’s Public Work Department, described the trail design and the outreach completed by his office, “This project will feature a stabilized earth trail on the high school side of Refugio Road that will be well suited for pedestrian and cycling use and an informal, trail on the east side of the road which will be conducive to equestrian use. Both trails will feature buffers from the road.” Sneddon noted that his Department held community meetings seeking input on the trail design and he personally spent many hours notifying and working with neighbors about the alignment of the trails.
Hartmann, Powell, and Sneddon invited community members to participate in the construction of this project at two upcoming volunteer work days: Saturday, October 1st andSaturday, October 8th at 8:30 a.m. in front of the SYVUHS. Powell noted volunteering to build this trail is a community-building opportunity and can help youth earn volunteer hours.
More details about the project and a sign-up for these work days are available at https://sbco.mysocialpinpoint.com/refugiotrail/.
Hartmann closed the event stating, “This project is just the beginning of many miles of trails and paths creating a safer and more connected Santa Ynez Valley.”