Access to the Stanislaus River through the city’s River Cove neighborhood has been a cause for concern of River Cove residents for the past few years and city officials are reviewing options for dealing with these concerns.
With a packed house filled with River Cove residents for the Riverbank City Council meeting of Tuesday, Feb. 9, Mayor Richard O’Brien opted to take some agenda items out of order to accommodate all the concerned citizens, starting the meeting with item 6.1, Rive Cove River Access Review. Ultimately, the council directed city staff to continue with ‘Option 4,’ which is to provide private security, increase Sheriff’s Patrols and garbage pick-up. The survey results showed that these interventions were helpful in dealing with the citizen concerns, according to Director of Parks and Recreation Sue Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick provided the city council with a report on the river access issues in the River Cove subdivision and offered four options in dealing with the issues in the future.
River Cove Drive is along the Stanislaus River. For the past few years residents in River Cove have been dealing with cars parked along River Cove Drive to access the river, alcohol consumption, speeding, undesirable behavior, and littering, according to complaints filed by the residents. People often bring their personal barbecues, the council was told, and have fire pits which could be potential fire hazards. There has been vandalism like people digging steps into the levee to create a walking path.
“These problems generally happen when the weather changes, usually May through September and so things have probably been pretty calm for the past few months but we are coming up to the season where they are going to start experiencing this again,” stated Fitzpatrick.
Due to the concerns from the River Cove residents the city implemented increased Sheriff Patrols, private security, and garbage pick-up.
“The residents have told us that has made a difference,” said Fitzpatrick. “It hasn’t solved all the problems but it has made a difference that costs the city about $4,000 annually.”
The cost is already budgeted in the Parks Department Budget in the General Fund.
In the report, Fitzpatrick noted that in October 2015 she presented the City Council a result of the survey that was implemented for the River Cove subdivision regarding the challenges regarding river access. At that time various options for dealing with these issues were discussed as well as the resident input gathered from the survey. City Council direction was given to do additional research on the parking by permit option and the process and cost associated with it. Additional information was also requested regarding the fencing at Briarcliff which was a main access point to the river and a source of many of the problems. The Parks and Recreation Director, Public Works Superintendent and the Police Chief have worked together in obtaining detailed information on the few options that were mentioned in most of the surveys, and which were of most interest to the City Council.
There were three other options discussed which were purchasing and installing signage, parking by permit, and fencing at Briarcliff.
Several residents stepped up to the podium and shared their concerns and opinions with the council members regarding the river access issues. Some residents expressed the desire to have a gated community and others did not think that would make much of a difference. Other residents expressed concern about permit parking and how they do not want to incur any other expenses. Another resident stated that the reason she moved to River Cove is to access the river so she did not like the idea of putting up a fence on the river side of Briarcliff. After the discussion with the public and the council members, Mayor O’Brien directed city staff to continue with option 4, which is already in place and has already been budgeted.