Published : Tuesday, October 24, 2017 | 5:20 PM
If you frequent the Rose Bowl fitness loop you might have seen Mayor Terry Tornek leading large groups of Pasadena residents and nature lovers along various trails and corners of the vast Arroyo Seco over the past several weeks, heightening awareness of this great natural resource while brainstorming ideas about its future.
After a handful of early morning strolls both off the beaten path and along designated trails, Mayor Tornek reflected on his experience as the “Walks With the Mayor” series comes to an end with a final trek schedule for this Thursday morning departing at 8 a.m. from Rose Bowl Gate A.
“I think everyone continues to be amazed at the breadth and the variety that exist in that ecosystem and as they learn about it, they’re anxious to find out what they can do to help enhance it,” said Mayor Terry Tornek.
“I couldn’t be much more connected,” Tornek added.
Tornek has been vocal about his affinity for the Arroyo Seco natural area since becoming mayor.
In this year’s “State of the City” address, the Mayor announced the formation of The Arroyo Advisory Group and its “One Arroyo” vision, which would create an overall long-term plan for the parkland as a way to unite the three areas of the Arroyo — Hahamongna, Central Arroyo and Lower Arroyo — under a singular vision.
The Mayor’s series of public walks around the Arroyo was intended to catapult community concerns and ideas to the forefront before the Arroyo Advisory Group makes a report to the City Council in December.
“It was designed [for] people who wanted to learn about the Arroyo, and may not be familiar with different sections of the Arroyo, to really introduce them to it,” said Tornek. “There are people that comment, ‘I never knew this existed’ or ‘I’ve never been in this part of the Arroyo, I only use it at this location and I had no idea that this was even here’. That kind of thing,” said Tornek.
The series of hour-long walks drew a diverse mix of people who engaged in the conversation, according to Tornek, who said approximately 60 people showed up to the last walk near the casting pond area of the Arroyo.
“The group’s been getting larger each time,” said Tornek.
The group attracted more than interested residents and nature enthusiasts.
Spokespeople from organizations such as the Rose Bowl Riders, Tom Sawyer Camps, the Casting Pond, and the Roaming Archers frequented the walks.
“All these groups have had people on the walks and they’ve really been able to enhance the level of information available, and I learned things that I certainly never knew about,” said Tornek. “I am better informed just by hearing the information from the people who have been associated with one of these organizations.”
All learning and discovery aside, Tornek emphasized the mission of the the series of walks.
“It’s nice to educate people about the Arroyo and to open their eyes to what’s available to them, but the process is not going to be successful unless we develop some specific game plan and that includes an implementation strategy,” said Tornek.
“The next phase in this is going to be to see what the committee comes up with in terms of priority suggestions for action and then see if we can develop a strategy to implement it,” explained Tornek.
Issues of trail connectivity, trail identification, and wildlife preservation are among the topics that are priorities, according to Tornek.
“Signage is an obvious one,” said the Mayor.
The Arroyo Advisory Group is working with a design consultant and that consultant is expected to offer specific suggestions about how to enhance the experience.
“But also, there are some points where the trail sort of breaks down, where it’s hard to connect. Apart from not knowing where to go, [it] is hard to physically make the connections,” Tornek said.
Tornek mentioned there are some people who are concerned not just about trails for humans, but trails for animals, and how to allow connectivity between wild areas for animals.
“There are a couple of points where some fairly simple adjustments to fencing and that sort of thing could allow animals to migrate more successfully and have one wild area communicate with another,” explained Tornek.
Tornek described the unique dynamic between the urban Pasadena setting and the Arroyo Seco — which exist just a couple miles apart.
“I think that’s such an amazing opportunity for urban residents, and that’s going to become even more vital as urban development becomes more intense as our lives get more intense, to have the ability to have that respite and really have an opportunity to connect with nature without driving vast distances or travelling a long way to make that happen. It’s something that everyone should be able to experience,” said Tornek.
The Arroyo Advisory Group created a survey for public input on Pasadena’s great city park is now available online at onearroyo.org/survey.
The survey will be available through midnight, November 30, 2017.
In-person surveys will also be conducted throughout the fall at a dozen or so community events and public spaces. Various incentives will be offered to survey participants, while supplies last.
One Arroyo: Walks with the Mayor Final Date and Location is Thursday, October 26th, 8 a.m.- Central Arroyo (Meet at Rose Bowl Gate A under the marquee. Parking available in Lot F of the Rose Bowl).