Wednesday, April 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

City, Arboretum seek input on greening project

Proposed improvements to the transition between the UC Davis Arboretum and downtown Davis will get a close look Saturday at a community meeting to gather public feedback on that site and the Putah Creek Parkway in South Davis.

The project will feature new native plantings, removal of invasive plants, new pathways and benches, habitat enhancement for wildlife and pollinators, wayfinding and educational signage, and safety and visibility enhancements.

Interested participants will gather at 1 p.m. behind Whole Foods in the Davis Commons shopping center parking lot and walk the site with project designers. At 2 p.m., they’ll move indoors to a meeting room at the University Park Inn and Suites, 1111 Richards Blvd., to offer their input.

The city of Davis, the Arboretum and several other partners have been awarded an Urban Greening Project Grant of $891,304 from the California Strategic Growth Council. The 5-acre project area includes 3.5 acres along the Putah Creek Parkway, where a bike path west of Olive Drive connects the bike tunnel under Interstate 80 with the bike tunnel under the railroad tracks.

This greenbelt follows the remnant north fork channel of Putah Creek, which will be restored with native plantings as a natural habitat area near downtown.

The project also includes 1.5 acres at the east end of the Arboretum near Aggie Village and Davis Commons. This will be the site of a new California native plant garden focused on plants native to the Putah Creek watershed.

The project also will fund the reconfiguration of bike and pedestrian paths to improve access and circulation and the installation of bio-swales and pervious concrete to capture parking lot storm water runoff, a news release said.

Most of the construction will take place this summer, with planting coming this fall. By spring of 2016 — the grant deadline for project completion — the new plantings will be well-established and installation of signage will be complete.

The project is the result of an innovative collaboration among the city, Arboretum, UCD Administrative and Resource Management Division, Yolo County Resource Conservation District, Tree Davis, Putah Creek Council, Fulcrum Capital, Cunningham Engineering and private landowners “to create a vibrant green space and a dynamic educational resource that will serve as a model for communities throughout California,” the news release said.

“The ultimate success of the project will depend on community support, both upfront during the design process and in the long run through volunteerism and donations.”

Said Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza, “The Strategic Growth Council’s funding of this project is a testament to what can happen when diverse governmental agencies, nonprofits and private companies collaborate to improve our community. This project will become the heart of where the city intersects with the UC Davis Arboretum.

“The fusion of city greenbelts with the Arboretum will become a phenomenal example of bicycle and pedestrian corridors, drawing users for commuting, recreation, education and the arts.”

The project site is strategically located at a hub of bicycle and pedestrian circulation where routes to the Arboretum, downtown Davis, the UCD campus and South Davis intersect. The project will include several major elements:

* The Putah Creek Parkway is a key bikeway linking South Davis with the university and downtown Davis. The project will improve wildlife habitat by removing invasive, non-native plants and trees; removing trash and rubble from the site; planting native riparian plants; and installing nesting structures for native pollinators.

Interpretive signs will identify native plants and their habitat value and explain the history of the site. New pedestrian trails and benches will provide better access and comfort for visitors.

* A California native plant garden will be an inviting space and major entry into the Arboretum from downtown. Teaching patios with themed plantings and interpretive signs will educate visitors about the regional flora and fauna, the history of the Putah Creek watershed and its current management, and how to create sustainable landscapes with native plants.

A sculptural gateway element, funded by the city’s municipal arts fund, will mark entry to the project site from downtown. Lighting along the garden’s major circulation corridor will improve user safety.

* Green parking lot retrofits will demonstrate best practices in storm water infiltration and treatment. The garden site abuts the Davis Commons parking lot, where runoff will be diverted into a “rain garden” biofiltration feature. In several parking stalls near the garden entry, asphalt will be replaced with a reflective surface to help reduce urban heating.

* Circulation improvements will ensure safe access to the Arboretum and the Putah Creek Parkway for bicycles and pedestrians. Improvements will include realigning pedestrian and bike paths and installing wayfinding signage, to create a visible and accessible connection from the Arboretum to downtown Davis and the citywide bicycle circulation system.

For more information, contact Emily Griswold, director of GATEways horticulture and teaching gardens at the Arboretum, at ebgriswold@ucdavis.edu or 530-754-8038.

Enterprise staff

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