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Users to have 137 new choices for parking

Construction has begun at one of Claremont’s most popular hiking destinations.

Crews from Panorama Engineering, Inc. have set to work expanding the north parking lot of the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park to accommodate the park’s growing popularity. Visitors will be restricted from using the parking lot at the north end of Mills Avenue over the duration of the project. Though it currently remains open, construction is scheduled to continue to October.

Temporary closures of the Wilderness Park entrance will take place as needed, according to City Manager Tony Ramos. Notice of any closures will be posted at the park in advance.

Though the north lot will be closed as construction continues over the next couple months, Wilderness Park users will still be able to park in the lot located at the northeast corner of Mills Avenue and Mt. Baldy Road.

Plans to expand parking at the Wilderness Park and Thompson Creek trail have been in discussion for several years, with numerous studies conducted by city staff and commissioners. The expansion proposes to eliminate on-street parking in an attempt to appease complaints of noise and traffic congestion in the neighborhoods surrounding the park.

The first phase will expand the park’s existing north lot located at Mills Avenue, which currently holds 20 parking spaces. After the expansion, the lot will span 1.45 acres and have an additional 137 spaces. Once the project is complete, parking will be restricted on adjacent streets.

“We are not trying to create more parking than is already there, but remove the parking from the streets and put it into off-street lots,” explained Brian Desatnik, director of community development. “If you go up and count [the cars] at a busy time, you will see cars jerry-rigged into some of those lots.”

In addition, the spots available in the parking lots will be metered. The Claremont City Council has approved a fee of $3 for every 4 hours of parking or $100 for an annual pass. Limited free spots will be designated for Claremont residents in the Mills and Mt. Baldy Road lot with an identifying pass.

The council approved the metered parking with the agreement that it would be reviewed again in one year’s time. The issue can be revisited sooner if staff deems it necessary.

“I think there is going to be a lot of fluctuation...and we need to have that flexibility of trying to manage what the right price will be,” Councilmember Sam Pedroza said at the last city council meeting in July.

The council will evaluate the response to the newly-constructed parking lot and make other parking changes, including the possibility of an expansion to the northeast lot, as deemed necessary.

“These are steps in the right direction to curb some of these issues,” Mr. Pedroza said. “I think we are going to create some other issues, but our job here is to address these issues as they come along.”

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

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