Construction vs Open Space — Over 8-10 years, the Felton Meadow Project will permanently transform a rare meadowland — a beautiful, stable, protected open space — that is legally recognized as a vital part of the essential bucolic nature of Felton and the San Lorenzo Valley. (Felton Town Plan, Santa Cruz County General Plan.)
Size & Public Attractions — Over twelve acres (an area larger than the size of The Boardwalk) will be transformed into an amusement park that – with an appointment, for a fee – will provide bike pump tracks, and flow trails down the hill with a “magic carpet” to carry bikers up the slope. At the top is a tall observation tower; at the bottom is a 53’-tall cable “aerial adventure,” and a splash fountain.
As you enter the driveway, the 7,425 square-foot building on the left is where users check in and pay the fee ($90-120) to use the pump tracks and flow trails; it provides bike rentals and a retail area to sell food and souvenirs. It also provides a lounge, restrooms and a place to wash bikes. There is a storage area to stockpile engineered soil for restoring the bike tracks and trails as they degrade from use and weather. Plus, above the pump tracks and storage area, there is a public community garden, with some plots reserved for Mt. Hermon Association and the rest offered as public plots (with possible preference for Mt. Hermon residents).
Private MHA Use — The extensive section of the Project reserved for Mt. Hermon Association’s sole use will include a 6,673 square-foot education/daycare building (with 9 toilets), a large playfield with a 600 foot long retaining wall, a target games area with bleachers, a tall footbridge over Zayante Rd. to Redwood Christian Camp and additional support buildings.
Parking Lot and Wetlands Swale — The entry road allows access to both buildings and to the two-part parking lot (permeable) with 131 stalls, 5 accessible stalls, and 3 drop-off stalls; a bridge over the swale connects the parking areas. The swale is a feature of the main wetland area; it will be heaving impacted during construction; restoration planned with extensive plantings doesn’t restore affected wildlife.
Infrastructure above ground — An extensive surface stormwater management system will direct surface flow to the swale and then to the culvert under Graham Hill Rd. It is questionable that the system will prevent greater off-flow of water with major storm season like 2016-17, especially with hardened flow trails, pump tracks, and parking. Erosion from trails and tracks can be expected.
Infrastructure below ground — Massive infrastructure includes an extensive stormwater management system, channeling water underground, that will require timely, proactive maintenance and the capacity to handle extreme storm seasons like 2016-17; the system culminates underground in percolation pits. There is also an onsite wastewater treatment and discharge system, consisting of a 15,000-gallon primary tank, a 4,000-gallon recirculation tank, and a 1,500-gallon dosing tank. Plus there will be eleven 100-foot long, 4-foot deep leaching trenches at the southeast portion of the site. This is where much of the rare oak woodlands is located, and where the 2016-17 storm season saturated the soil, bringing ducks, and bringing into question proper septic system function.
While designed by respected companies, with special attention to environmental issues, there is no longer a meadow in the Felton Meadow Plan, except in the name — no open space, no animal habitat, no natural stormwater capacity, no scenic viewshed, no wetlands, a stressed oak woodland, and massive underground infrastructure that significantly alters underground soil structure and is dependent on percolation and careful maintenance to function. With climate change, storm seasons like 2016-17 are expected to be more frequent, interchanging with drought, testing the capacity and viability, with potential for erosion and landslides.The stable meadow, proven through drought and extreme storms, will no longer exist.
The title given to the Mount Hermon “Adventure,” the Felton Meadow Project, is misleading. It is not Felton’s own plan, nor is there any “meadow” in the Felton Meadow Project — except in the name. Instead, it destroys rare open space, damages the cherished bucolic nature of the town, increases already severe traffic congestion, and potentially threatens both neighbors and the watershed.
When first hearing that a “bike park” was planned for a historic and unique meadow on Graham Hill Rd. and Conference Dr., it sounded like a fun idea for kids, like a skate park. Mount Hermon is a well-known and highly respected Evangelical Christian organization founded in 1906. It has a well-crafted plan, but that plan goes too far beyond their first assurances when announcing their purchase of the property. Because of that, we find ourselves leading a rapidly growing groundswell of opposition, as the massive scope and enduring impacts are understood of what is now being called an amusement park, transforming more than 12 acres at the entrance to the SLV. Mt. Hermon changed the name from The Mount Hermon Youth Recreation Project to The Felton Meadow Project, in an attempt to reshape both the ownership and intent of the development that rivals The Beach Boardwalk in size.