Hundreds of concerned residents and proponents of a new possible addition to the city’s tourism initiative attended a public hearing at the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento Tuesday.
The heated subject was the proposal to create two new round trip rail excursions. They are a part of the State Parks and the Railroad Museum’s vision to utilized unused rails in the area and create two new tourist attractions, up to 40 years from now.
The first line will be from Old Sacramento to the Sacramento Zoo. The second line will be from Meadow View to Hood. The predominantly residential section between the Zoo and Meadowview was taken out of the master plan Tuesday’s meeting.
The Sacramento Zoo has repeatedly expressed their support of the proposal, because of its potential to bring new tourists from around the world, and alleviate area car traffic.
“Everybody loves trains, everybody loves animals, so we just think it’s a great combination,” Sacramento Zoo Director Mary Healy said.
However, many residents who live near the proposed excursion areas stated their disapproval.
“People can actually look into our back yard, so our concern with the trains is that every time they come by, they can see my kids playing back there, and there will be a lot of noise,” neighbor Kris Rogers said.
She and a few dozen families live along the proposed Zoo line, which would be the first to be built, if the proposal is approved.
“I think those who are for it, should have to live with their families with pollution,” South Land Park resident Dan Weitzman said. “I think tourism is one thing but quality of life, property values, pollution is a whole other thing.”
If the plan passes, there will be four round trip excursions on the weekend. The Zoo is already considering plans to combat the possible privacy issue.
“Perhaps there is a way that once the train runs into the zoo station, a screen comes down, and actually blocks the view of those few homes that might be impacted,” Healy said.
However, at this point, the plan is no funding source. So there is no guarantee that it will even happen.
“It is going to be a very expensive project, I’ll grant you that,” Dana Jones, Capital District Superintendent of the California State Parks said. “We will have to do further planning, because this is an envisioning document. This is not a project planning document yet.”
The next step is for the lead agencies to present a revised proposal to the Recreation Commission on May 2. Then the Commission will put it to a vote.