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Torrance Seeks State Funding for Bike Path Around Madrona Marsh

Times Staff Writer

In an effort to improve the appearance of Madrona Marsh, Torrance officials are seeking state money to help pay for a tree-lined bicycle and jogging path around the 42-acre nature preserve.

On Tuesday, the City Council unanimously approved an application for a $427,000 grant from the State Department of Parks and Recreation. The total cost of the path has not been determined.

The proposed path, varying in width from 8 to 20 feet, is expected to be completed by next January if the city can raise the money, officials said.

Madrona Marsh, which is bounded by Sepulveda Boulevard, Madrona Avenue, Maple Avenue and Plaza Del Amo, is a seasonal wetland used by about 140 species of migratory birds, frogs, snakes and other small animals. It is one of the few natural wetlands remaining in the South Bay.

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The path, lined with trees, bushes and an irrigation system, would replace the overgrown weeds and litter along the marsh’s perimeter. “Right now it looks like a big hole in the ground,” said Parks and Recreation Director Gene Barnett.

Barnett said a new fence would replace the deteriorating chain-link fence surrounding the marsh. He said a new fence is needed to keep trespassers from disturbing wildlife.

Mayor Katy Geissert agreed. “It will provide a buffer from the noise and traffic” of the streets, she said in an interview.

The frontage along Sepulveda Boulevard already has a paved bike path, but it is not landscaped or fitted for irrigation.

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“We are happy that the city is applying for this (grant),” said Ken Gaugh, president of Friends of Madrona Marsh, an environmental group that has worked for more than a decade to preserve the marsh. “It will be better aesthetically for the people.”

“I’m tickled pink,” said Shirley Turner, a longtime member of the group. “I couldn’t be happier.”

Not everyone agrees.

“I think it stinks,” said Sam Suitt, a former president and current member of the preservation group. “It’s a needless encroachment on the marsh.”

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Suitt said the proposed path will take away too much land from the sensitive nature preserve. “A 4-foot-wide sidewalk would be sufficient,” he said. “But the whole point is to keep it as it is.”

Barnett acknowledged that the path will encroach on some sensitive portions of the marsh, but not substantially.

“It’s a matter of degree,” he said. “Frankly, I don’t see it as a significant impact on the marsh.”

Builder Donated Land

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Under a 1983 agreement between the city and the developers of Park Del Amo, a massive residential and office project next to the marsh, the developer won the right to build 1,482 residential units and 850,000 square feet of office space in exchange for donating 34 1/2 acres of marshland and selling an additional 8 acres to the city.

As part of the agreement, the developer also agreed to pay for a path along Plaza Del Amo, Maple and Sepulveda. Barnett said the details have not been settled.

Barnett said he is optimistic about getting the grant but that if the request is rejected, the city will try for other state or federal money.


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