Pasadena's Private-Public Project 'One Arroyo' Looks to Connect With Green

Published : Tuesday, April 9, 2019 | 5:47 AM

The One Arroyo Foundation project, a public-private effort to protect the Arroyo Seco, held a kickoff event at a private home in Pasadena on April 6, and those on hand represented many different facets of the community.

All in attendance have one shared goal: To work together to preserve Pasadena’s treasured Arroyo. But it can’t be done on love alone and the organization is looking to raise $7 million to preserve and enhance the Arroyo.

“The Arroyo is, as all of you know, this priceless resource we enjoy in the city — and in some cases over-enjoy it,” Mayor Terry Tornek told the gathering that sunny, picture Pasadena afternoon. “There’ve been a lot of documents and discussions about what should and should not happen in the Arroyo. Everyone loves the Arroyo and they love it for a whole series of different reasons.”

The overall vision of One Arroyo is to connect the 1,000 acres of Arroyo recreation, historical and cultural venues with the habitat over a unified trail system and implement ways to preserve natural resources.

There have been at least 13 studies on how to manage and preserve various aspects of the Arroyo, but Tornek said it was a personal visit and some research on his part and with others that brought about solid strategy. But it’s also clear that public funds will be needed to help the government administer the Arroyo.

The main purpose of the One Arroyo Foundation is to fundraise a total of $7 million in private donations. From that sum, $5 million will be used together with municipal and county and state funds to pay for two trail projects: The Streamside Walk and The Woodlands Loop.

“We took a little trip, we did some research,” Tornek said. “What I discovered, my takeaway, was that some of the best practices nationally where there were real successes in terms of preserving and improving open spaces that are under increasing pressure because of uses, the most successful examples of those nationally, were in situations where there was a public-private partnership to begin to work on some of these issues.”

Bill Bogaard, the former mayor of Pasadena, said he was impressed with the turnout at the “Arroyo One” kickoff event and he was happy there were all different groups of the community represented.

“This effort got started about two years ago when the city council unanimously adopted a recommendation that it had received to establish the Arroyo Advisory Group,” Bogaard said. “That recommendation came from City Manager Steve Mermell and Rose Bowl Manager Darryl Dunn. It’s had strong support at City Hall from the very beginning.”

He said the members of the Arroyo Advisory Group have played a vital role.

Bogaard and Doug Kranwinkle were initially chosen to serve as co-chairs.  Board members now  include Don Fedde, Don Hahn, Carol Henry, Michael Hecht, Dr. Kristie Lin, Allison Morgan, Molly Munger, John Onderdonk, Kris Popovich, Diane Wittenberg and Dr. Paula Verrette.

“I’m delighted that the foundation has now been assembled and I wish them all the best,” said Sue Mossman, Executive Director of preservationist organization Pasadena Heritage. Mossman was not at the gathering. “I will be following closely what happens next and waiting for word on how the community can participate and support.”

The Arroyo Advisory committee, which was put together a little more than two years ago, started the work of identifying improvement projects, and one of the first ideas is a universal trailway.

“Our goal from the One Arroyo Foundation and out of the recommendations that came from the advisory group were to begin work on an overall unified trail through the Arroyo,” Dan Rothenberg, chair of the AAG’s financial planning committee. “The way the advisory group thought this could actually happen was by doing a couple of demonstration projects to show the community what we’re talking about, about enhancing it, hopefully inspire new things, and not changing the natural beauty of it or doing anything too impactful to it.

“Our goal really was to look at it and do these two capital projects and maintain them,” Rothenberg said. “Our goal from a numbers perspective, we said at $7 million that breaks out into two different categories. One would be capital expense. We view that as about $5 million of the total that would go directly towards the projects. The remaining $2 million we’re looking at raising an endowment of some sort, fund a reserve for the maintenance of these projects as well as the broader Arroyo in general.

“When we look at the unified trail through the whole thing, it’s a better number,” he said. “It’s a bigger project, it’s going to take a lot of public and private partnerships to get it done. But we think we can get there. We just thought, and the Arroyo Advisory Group agreed that this was the best place to start.”

Rothenberg mentioned that it is important to point out that the Arroyo-based projects were approved unanimously and all future approvals will go through the normal vetting processes of the city.

“We’re fortunate to be able to say to you all today that through private funding we’ve already received — and through public funding and private funding that we believe is going to be made available — that we’re at a position or almost there to begin the design review process on these projects.”

As the project is looking to raise $7 million, Rothenberg added that if anyone is interested in making contributions to please reach out directly to the group. For more information please email your query to

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