Before Crescent City Harbor was crippled by tsunamis in 2006 and 2011, the port was working on plans to promote harbor businesses and tourism.
Now that the $54 million project to reconstruct a working harbor is nearing completion, tourism plans, like building a section of the California Coastal Trail, which cleared another hurdle last week, can take precedence.
“For the last five years, we’ve been focused on rebuilding a marina,” Harbormaster/CEO Richard Young, recently said. “Now we can focus more on economic development.”
The Harbor Commission and the Crescent City Council separately approved agreements this week that will allow the harbor to construct a portion of the California Coastal Trail over city-owned property.
Ultimately, plans call for the California Coastal Trail to stretch from the Oregon state line to the Mexican border.
City-owned Huston Street, which extends from the intersection of Highway 101 and Elk Valley Road to the northern side of the harbor’s dredge ponds, will be used to connect Sunset Circle to the harbor’s property. The street is on the map, but it is undeveloped and leads to nowhere currently.
According to Associate City Planner Eric Taylor, the easement is about 180 feet long by 10 feet wide and is within the Walton Docks subdivision. The city was granted the easement agreement as long as the parcel of land was developed for public use, according to Taylor.
Currently, pedestrians and cyclists travel from the city’s section of Coastal Trail beside the sea through Beachfront Park to a bridge over Elk Creek, where the official trail stops on the other side. Trail users can then follow Sunset Circle to avoid Highway 101, but only until reaching Huston Street, where pedestrians and cyclists are forced to use 101 in front of a liquor store before reaching the harbor.
The new 10-foot-wide, paved asphalt path will travel up Huston Street, along the harbor’s dredge ponds with views of the ocean before circling around the inner boat basin and heading along Starfish Way toward South Beach. The path will include lighting to expand the friendly hours of operation.
Sunset Circle will not be developed as a part of this project, but that road connecting to the current city portion and future harbor portions of Coastal Trail is already paved.
The Harbor District will construct its portion of the trail using funding from the California Coastal Conservancy, which is also funding a promenade around the inner boat basin with four viewing platforms, a new restroom and fish cleaning station, and wayfinding and interpretive signage. The harbor recently received a development permit for the project from the California Coastal Commission.
“(The harbor) is also proposing to put in a 16-foot wide access road. This will just be a gravel road so they can maintain and get to their dredge piles. It’ll be lined with split-rail fencing to delineate the trail,” Taylor said.
The Harbor District will be responsible for the cost of development and all maintenance costs. The city would also be able to modify the encroachment agreement with the harbor if it wanted to develop Huston Street, Taylor said.
“It’s a good project,” Taylor said. “It has a lot of connectivity for the harbor and the city.”
Councilwoman Kathryn Murray, who rides her bike to the harbor, said she’s excited about the Harbor District’s project.
“I think it’ll be really good for tourists and locals,” she said.