Paso purchase would connect trails

Paso Robles has a chance to purchase a piece of private property that would allow the city to continue an established public trail adjacent to South River Road on the east side.

The path currently stops at either side of land owned by Bunnell Development Corp., which leaves pedestrians and cyclists at two dead ends.

To complete the proposed trail, the city would need to acquire the private property, according to city staff.

If it buys the land, the city can build a 350-foot connection to run adjacent to South River Road within the Salinas River corridor to connect the two existing trail ends.

One trail currently dead-ends north of an apartment complex across the street from Navajo Avenue, adjacent to South River Road. The other is a path just north of there, under the 13th Street bridge that dead-ends south of where 13th Street turns into Creston Road.

Unlike the 154 acres of Salinas River corridor the city bought with a state stewardship grant in May, no grant money is available to buy the Bunnell property.

The city did, however, receive a roughly $1.1 million federal grant to extend the trail.

The first step in acquiring the land came July 13, when the Planning Commission unanimously agreed that the purchase aligns with the city’s blueprint for growth.

The purchase approval is set to go before the City Council this fall. If approved, officials said, the city hopes to buy the 5.4-acre property by the end of September.

A cost estimate on the land is not yet available, officials said, because the city is still in preliminary negotiations with Bunnell.

If staff is successful in obtaining a purchase agreement with Bunnell, the City Council can decide whether the money will come from city park development funds, because there is a recreational element with the trail connection, Community Development Director Ron Whisenand said.