|Flooding in "Sierra del Puente" arroyo in 2013. Photo by Richard Allen|
People packed the last OSAB meeting. They were there either to speak about the Sierra del Puente development or the issue of a collection station next to Keystone Heritage Park. Both topics took up nearly two hours of time. Both groups were passionate about preservation: the preservation of mountainside and arroyos instead of the Sierra del Puente development and the preservation of the land south of Keystone Heritage Park. OSAB passed a motion to preserve the land next to Keystone and asked staff to find an alternate site for the station to recommend to City Council. OSAB could not take action on Sierra del Puente but plans to discuss the item in Executive Session at the next meeting.
The fervor to preserve the mountainside was revealed in an ABC/7 news report by Darren Hunt.
A little background on the Sierra del Puente property from mountain historian, John Nuñez:
"This all started in the early 1980s with a proposed development for a tennis club and then the Rotary Club was going to build a clubhouse somewhere near the mouth of Hondo Canyon. The late 90s came around and that is when the big scar across the foothills was carved in for the supposed extension of Hondo Pass Rd/Edgar Park down to Hercules. Over the last 35 years, pieces of that mountain have been carved out in the name of development when in fact much of the material hauled out was used for fill dirt for the overpasses on highway construction (Patriot Freeway/ Loop 375). Then a little shimmer of light was announced in the mid 2000s that Representative's Suzie Byrd and, at the time, Joe Moody were working with Knapp to purchase the property and then have it transferred to the state park system. Then that plan [never came to fruition.]"
Several options for purchasing the land are being considered. However, the process can be long and drawn out. The fact that so many are interested in the preservation of the mountains (including Knapp) should give all of us hope.