Fitness trail underway at Canoa Preserve Park

Sunday, December 22, 2013
Kevin Duke

Work has begun on an exercise trail around the perimeter of Green Valley's first public park, financed through a $30,000 settlement from Asarco stemming from dust storms in Sahuarita. The project at Canoa Preserve Park, expected to be completed in the spring, comes about a year after the park opened in January with two ball fields.

"The trail is going to be a little over a mile, and will be an eight- to 10-foot-wide fitness trail," said Mark Flint, trails program coordinator for Pima County. "There will be some structures for fitness activity on the west and south side of it." Flint was at the site this week, operating a Sweco earth mover, a small trail building bulldozer used to dig out the path through the desert around the park. He was being assisted by several volunteers from Green Valley, who were working behind him, raking the freshly moved dirt and marking and trimming trees along the path.

The combination running, cycling and exercise trail will be wide enough to accommodate runners, walkers and cyclists simultaneously. "It's going to be wide enough that there won't be conflicts between runners, walkers and bicyclists," Bill Adamson, one of the volunteers and an avid cyclist, said. "They can all coexist on the same trail."

After establishing the trail's path with the preliminary grading, a decomposed granite will be applied to provide a smooth surface for runners and cyclists. "It's fairly hard dirt, a compact sand," Flint said. He has worked on many of the trails in the Tucson area in his position with the county. "You've seen it if you've been on the Rillito River path or any of the river paths around town."

Four exercise stations with 12 pieces of equipment will be stationed on the trail, with sit-up benches, chin-up bars, stretching stations and more for those looking to maximize their workouts. The original estimate for the trail was over $100,000, according to Chuck Catino, who has spearheaded the development of the park in Green Valley. But having the county do the work instead of contracting it out should bring it in under that estimate.

"It might cost other people that much to do it, but we're doing it for nothing," Steve Anderson, planning manager for the Pima County Parks and Recreation Department said. "It usually slows down right before Christmas, so we had the time and we're getting it done as we can." "It should come in under that with the county supporting 95 percent of the work," Catino said. The funding comes from a settlement with Asarco over pollution emanating from the mine tailings near Rancho Resort in Sahuarita during two January dust storms.

The county in September announced the funds would go to the 131-mile bike and multi-use paths network known as The Loop, which connects Rillito River Park, Santa Cruz River Park, Pantano River Park, Julian Wash and the Harrison Greenway, but did not specify exactly where the money would go. In October, county Project Manager Nancy Cole said the Asarco money would be used in Green Valley.

The trail goes around the perimeter of the park, just south of the new ball fields, to the west near the train tracks, and on the north and east sides about a quarter mile away from the fields.

"We put some sinuosity into it, so it's not just a big rectangle," Flint said. "There's turns in some of the areas, we take it close to trees so there is some shade whenever possible and there's some ups and downs." The trail was flagged about a month ago, and to have it completed by spring is a very quick turnaround, Flint said. "It's been really quick," he said. "Usually a trail is a two- to five-year process, and this is going to be done within a year, easily." "With any trail you have to go through an abundance of steps. You've got to get your cultural clearance, your biological clearance, any easements ... and find the money to build it."

"It's going to be a great new trail for Green Valley and really adds to the versatility of the park," Adamson said. "What's nice about these trails in the parks, if you have youth ballgames, mom can drop off the kids and do a run around the trail," Flint said. "We have that a lot at our other parks."