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Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal tells residents gathered to celebrate the Safe Routes to School grant that the community should use the momentum to identify other locations that need attention. (COAST courtesy photo)

Community leaders gathered Dec. 17 to celebrate the $392,000 federal Safe Routes to School grant awarded to Santa Barbara County to build a half-mile decomposed granite pathway along the west side of San Ysidro Road from Montecito Union School to North Jameson Road.

The path has been a collaborative effort from the start, according to many of the event’s speakers, which included Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, Montecito Union School Superintendent Dick Douglas, Montecito Association President Bill Palladini and Montecito Trails Foundation President John Venable, who has committed to maintaining the path.

Appreciation of the process and the partnerships between many entities, which also included county public works staff members Matt Dobberteen and Bert Johnson, was echoed by many of those in attendance.

COAST‘s Eva Inbar said “the project was based on a remarkable collaboration between many parties,” including previous COAST Executive Director Katharine Bechtel.

The path not only will provide a safer place for students on their way to school but as school parent and project initiator Stephen Murdoch said, “The path will link pedestrians of every age to Miramar Beach, Upper and Lower Manning Parks, Laguna Blanca Lower School and the shopping area of the Upper Village.”

Carbajal was one of several who stressed that the community should celebrate the success of the San Ysidro path and use the momentum to move forward in identifying other locations to focus efforts. COAST’s newest project, Santa Barbara Walks, will be working to improve pedestrian access to schools, parks, community centers and other public places throughout the South Coast.

An environmental review will be done next year, with construction of the pathway expected to start in 2010. 

Courtney Dietz is COAST’s director of Santa Barbara Walks.