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Oakmont’s curious trail flap

Oakmont’s curious trail flap

By Jim Brewer

For as long as most anyone can remember, an uneasy truce has existed between Oakmont and the owners of a private roadway that connects Stone Bridge Road and Trione-Annadel State Park. But all that ended last month when the owner of the paved roadway installed a metal gate and locked it, forcing hikers and bikers onto the newly-opened gravel path that connects to Oakmont’s new Happy Tails dog park.

None of that would be a major problem except that under handicap access requirements imposed by the City of Santa Rosa, two-way traffic along the six-foot-wide path ranges somewhere between very difficult and impossible. Jagged, basketball-sized rocks line the 500-foot path along with, in some spots, posts and handrails to aid any dog walkers in wheelchairs or with balance issues.

The OVA moved quickly to post signs requiring bikes to be walked, but most everyone agrees such a requirement is essentially unenforceable.

“People are now encouraged to use a gravel trail that leads to the dog park,” said Heidi Klyn, who is the Oakmont board’s liaison to the park. “However, this trail is built by Oakmont to ADA standards from the city and we encourage people with bicycles to walk, not ride, on that path. We do have elderly people who are handicapped with their dogs heading to the dog park.”

Trione-Annadel can also be reached via the path leading from behind Star of the Valley church on White Oak Drive through Wild Oak to Channel Drive, although bikes are prohibited from being ridden along that path, too. A previous board of directors took a preliminary look at placing a bridge in the park behind Meadowgreen Place, about three-fourths of a mile away, but that would have required cooperation from Wild Oak. “At this point we are keeping our options open,” said Oakmont board president Tom Kendrick. Some of those options include a parallel path, finding another way into the park from the western end of Oakmont, or simply doing nothing.

Less than two weeks after the access road closed, a single pole gate was placed [ since disappeared-Ed.] about 90 feet closer to Annadel across the gravel roadway near an abandoned sewage treatment plant, although it did not prevent bikes or hikers from crossing the creek into the park. There was no official explanation, but one ranger said it was done to keep cars from driving to the area. How cars could be driven down to that second gate remained something of a mystery.

“It’s ludicrous,” Klyn said.