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City Manager Reports on Canyon Park

On the left, the rock wall alongside the road near the top of the park. The hillside falls away sharply on the other side.

By Dylan Feik
City Manager  

John Muir once said, "Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt." Over the past few weeks there is quite a buzz on social media regarding Canyon Park so I thought I could share information, pictures and updates on our beloved park. I'd like to give an update on our debris removal efforts, current construction, future plans and project enhancements. I'll also share some details on the funding behind this project.

Debris Removal Efforts
To-date, the City has approved $4.7 million for costs associated with debris removal and clean up on Canyon Park and Lower Clamshell Trail. The vast majority of these costs will be reimbursed by the State of California and FEMA. As we have cleared out the rock, boulder and debris, I am so happy to share that except for debris like metal, concrete, or other human-made debris, the City has not hauled debris out of the park (the trucks you see are from County debris removal efforts around the Sawpit Dam and Wash). A significant portion of the work we are doing includes reusing and repurposing the rock, dirt and even fallen trees to help build the park. For example, boulders were collected and saved, then placed along the stream beds to fortify against future erosion. Trees damaged by the Bobcat Fire or floods in 2021 and 2022 have been buried into any landform grading/earthwork, providing greater nutrient levels in the soil. Hydroseed included native grasses and wildflowers seeds, and were applied in certain areas of the park to protect against further erosion. I am optimistic we should be close to completion of our debris removal operations...for now.

Current Construction Efforts
Beginning last week, our contractors began work on the damaged rock wall just below the Nature Center. The wall and surrounding roadway began sliding downhill this past spring. Unfortunately, the wall has moved enough that we needed to excavate a large portion of the roadway only to find that fixing the wall will mean removing large portions so we can install a proper footing. Amazingly, the rock wall sat on a foundation of piled rock - and lasted - for decades. Fixing the wall means we have to take it down and rebuild.

Future Plans
Now we get to the exciting part! The City has prepared construction plans which are close to 100% complete. Here is the general scope of work we will be undertaking:
  • Replacing the roadway from Canyon Blvd. to the Damkeeper's House. In addition to a new roadway, we are changing the cross-slope of the roadway to prevent future debris from flowing directly down the center of the park in the future, should there be another mudslide
  • Replacing all parking lots and adding 24 new parking spaces
  • Replacing the water main, installing a booster pump to feed water from the Oakglade tank, and removing the old Canyon Park water tank
  • Installing a 6" sewer line and removing septic tanks
  • Repairing damaged culverts, guardrails, walls, etc.

The project estimate is between $17-$18 million.

Project Enhancements
One of the exciting components of the park project is we are adding approximately 10 new features or enhancements to the park. They are:
  • Enhanced park entrance with new picnic tables and a public art piece
  • Enhancing the park entrance kiosk to enclose it, add air conditioning and storage
  • A small picnic and parking area just beyond the road to Trask Boy Scout Camp. The flood uncovered a previously unknown asphalt parking area!
  • A new raised deck/platform near the small picnic area which will provide a quiet and peaceful place to sit next to the stream and observe nature
  • A new ADA parking area near the cabin to ensure full accessibility for all users
  • A new small seating area near the cabin nearby a large heritage oak tree
  • Enhanced seating area we are calling "Canyon Park Educational Center" with seating near the entrance to 3 Graves Trail. This underutilized space will become a place where park naturalists can teach us about the park, nature, wildlife, plants and much more
  • New enhancements to the Veterans Memorial (just below the Nature Center). This area is usually passed by and we want to ensure residents know it's there by adding native landscaping, seating and perhaps signage to make it a destination within the park
  • A renovated overlook at the top of the park. On a clear day you can see Catalina Island but the overlook area needs to be beautified
  • Renovation of the Damkeeper's House to be used for special events and rentals on a limited basis. This area has the best views within the park and we will begin making renovations and repairs for future public use.

In addition to the construction work, the City has partnered with Psomas for the environmental planning that we need to rebuild our park's natural features. They have been working in the park for several weeks doing a biological constraints analysis which is essentially a field survey of current site conditions and the true impacts of wildfire and flood on our park. They will also perform a tree risk assessment. With information in hand, they will develop a habitat recovery plan which will be a key component of our repair efforts in years to come. if you want to see the work they do, check out this video of the work they did on the Santa Anita Oak Woodland Project.

Project Funding Update
In February 2022, the City Council decided set aside all future Measure K revenues ($0.75 cent sales tax on all purchases in Monrovia) to assist with the repairs at Canyon Park. However since that time, the City has worked very hard to secure funding for the project. Here are some important details on funding:
  • The City has filed 3 emergency declarations which essentially allow the City to seek federal and state funding assistance. The Federal and State governments will fund 75% of eligible costs associated with the emergency declaration. The challenge is deciding which portions of the project are eligible.
  • The City has insurance coverage for the park as well. This coverage applies to buildings, property, and even our revenue streams for the lost park revenues since it's been closed for an extended period of time.
  • Working with the Hon. Grace Napolitano (U.S. House of Representatives), the City secured a $3 million federal grant award for the project.
Securing funding for the project is an important part of the daily work that staff undertakes. Currently, here are some efforts we are undertaking to secure more funding: Working with State of California Assembly Member Chris Holden's Office, the City has submitted a $8.5 million request for the State Budget. This request is the top funding priority for Assembly Member Holden and is currently being deliberated in Sacramento.
The City applied for two Hazard Mitigation Grant Program projects totaling over $8 million. These projects must abate known hazards and are related to removal of our old water main/water tank (as the main is suspended from a tree in one area) and the roadway work (changing the cross-slope of the road). We were approved by the State and invited to prepare our final application for both...this is fantastic news!

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not give a huge shoutout to MPWR and their continued efforts to raise funds for park projects in our community. They are currently underway with their annual auction and if anyone is interested in helping support Canyon Park, please participate in the MPWR auction or consider a donation to help with the park.

Construction Schedule and Estimated Reopening Date
August 2023: 100% Design Plans and bid documents
September 2023: Initiate RFP process, host pre-bid meeting and job walk
October 2023: Receive and evaluate bids and award of contract
November 2023: Project kick-off and construction starts (6-9 months of construction)
Winter 2024: Tentative Re-opening of Canyon Park

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