VACAVILLE — The youths of Vacaville’s Reach Coalition brought their campaign to clean up and improve an unsafe dirt trail used by Rocky Hill residents to the Vacaville City Council this week.
Their 12-minute video, called “The Rocky Hill Trail – On a Path to Transformation,” premiered before the council. It described a trash-cluttered trail that is muddy when it rains, but is considered a favorite shortcut despite its unsafe reputation, according to neighborhood youths interviewed by the filmmakers.
Vacaville’s Reach Coalition is a city-sponsored group of young people who have been advocating for youth-connected issues for more than five years.
A 2008 Reach survey of youth concerns in the city showed that a top concern of the city’s young people was the safety of Vacaville’s network of formal bicycle and pedestrian paths as well as its unofficial unpaved trails.
Reach members followed with several cleanups of city bike/pedestrian paths and more recently narrowed their focus to the dirt path that provides a shortcut from the Rocky Hill neighborhood with the downtown and businesses along East Monte Vista Avenue.
Little-known outside of the neighborhood itself, the pathway, also known as the ghetto trail, was described by Reach members Coliesha Webb and Dashon Allen as a well-worn dirt path that is also a collecting point for trash, graffiti and fights.
Youths interviewed for the film said that while the trail is dangerous and has a bad reputation, it is also a shortcut that gets them and other residents to and from school and stores faster.
“We want to get the word out so that these problems can be addressed,” Webb said. “All we want is for the trail to be safe.”
Reach members have already taken some steps that include partnering with The Fathers House in its Adopt-a-Block ministry, which has adopted several blocks in the Rocky Hill neighborhood to distribute food and clean up graffiti.
Webb also told the council that Reach plans to submit a grant request to the Sierra Health Foundation to help tackle the problem. The Sierra Health Foundation has already given grant funds to Reach, which has help the group’s previous youth-related efforts.
The land the trail crosses is owned by at least three entities, Vacaville, Solano County and Vacaville’s housing agency, which makes it tougher to address the trail’s problems, according to City Manager Laura Kuhn.
Kuhn said the city is taking some measures to improve its section of the trail while the section owned by the Housing Authority is mired in the current dismantling of redevelopment. The Fathers House has expressed interest in buying part of the trail and putting in a community garden, Kuhn said.
The council was complimentary about Reach’s efforts. Councilwoman Dilenna Harris asked if Reach members have talked with the trail’s landowners about it. Reach Coordinator Judith Franco said those conversations are ongoing.
Councilman Curtis Hunt called the film “pretty upsetting” and urged Reach to take more actions on their part to address the path’s problems. That included possibly getting the path included in the city’s pedestrian/bike trail master plan.
The film can be viewed at the city’s website at www.cityofvacaville.com.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.