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Youths make film to help transform Vacaville trail

Vaca Reach premieres film to get local trail cleaned up

Coleshia Webb tries to navigate the slippery mud that makes up the bike trail used by Rocky Hill residents Thursday in Vacaville. Webb and Vacaville’s Reach Coalition are campaigning to clean up and improve the unsafe dirt trail. (Conner Jay/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | January 25, 2013 |

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.

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson has worked for the Daily Republic longer than he cares to remember. A native of Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon, he pines for the motherland still. He covers Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base for the Daily Republic. He is an avid military history buff, wargamer and loves the great outdoors.
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Discussion | 2 comments

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  • PatriotJanuary 25, 2013 - 6:12 am

    This trail has been there for years..The locals decide to walk through there..Gang Members have used it to meet and fight other gangsters and escape from the Police. The locals have decided to use the trail versus walking down Brown to Monte Vista. I am glad to see Lincoln Corner closed it off leading into their property. The locals have now made a new trail around the fenced off area..Build Habitate for Humanity houses on Rocky Hill and block off the trail from Brown and the locals will be forced to use the sidewalks and streets just like the rest of us use on a daily basis..If you put a bike trail in there the gangsters will still use it for their criminal acts and escaping the police..

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • M. A. SalausaJanuary 25, 2013 - 5:47 pm

    I also feel that there's little that can be done about increasing safety on a path that is so hidden from public view. I admire the effort to somehow make the path itself safe, but it seems making the path inaccessible would be a bigger help. btw, I was unable to find the video at the City of VV's website but easily found it on YouTube.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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