Quarry expansion requires redesign for Skyline's 'kamikaze' run

2013-06-03T20:00:00Z Quarry expansion requires redesign for Skyline's 'kamikaze' runPETER JENSEN Napa Valley Register
June 03, 2013 8:00 pm  • 

Syar Industries’ plans to expand its quarry operations southeast of the city of Napa is causing the Skyline Park Citizens’ Association to redesign one of the park’s main trails, the Skyline Trail.

The company is proposing to extend its operations to some areas on the easternmost portions of its property, located off of Highway 221 and south of Napa State Hospital and Skyline Wilderness Park.

That proposal is currently undergoing environmental review, and a draft environmental impact report is due to be released in mid-July, Napa County Planning Director Hillary Gitelman said Monday.

Syar primarily mines for blue basalt, rhyolite and tuff at the quarry site. Blue basalt has heavy construction and industrial uses, while rhyolite is marketed as landscape boulders, construction aggregate, and drain rock, according to the notice to prepare an environmental impact report. Tuff is sold as engineered fill, among other uses, according to the notice.

Parts of the Skyline Trail currently run onto Syar’s property. With the trail redesign, the route will be solely on park property, said Dorothy Glaros, president of the Skyline Park Citizens’ Association.

“The proposed reroute will be all on our property,” Glaros said. “We’re going to have to redo some of the beginning of Skyline all the way to upper Skyline.”

Glaros said the timeline for redoing the trail will be contingent on Syar’s project schedule, and the association is waiting for the draft environmental impact report to be released. The public will have 45 days to comment on the report after its release.

She said Syar had proposed a redesigned trail that featured 17 switchbacks, but a trailmaster working with the association was able to winnow that down to just three switchbacks, which hikers will undoubtedly enjoy.

The redesigned trail will no longer be such a dangerous ride for bicyclists once it’s altered, she said.

“It won’t be a kamikaze run,” Glaros said. “Some of the bikers like that kamikaze run.”

Syar representative Jennifer Gomez said the issue of Skyline trails running onto Syar property predates the permitting process for the expanded quarry operations. Syar purchased the operation from Basalt Rock Company, and with it came a lease for some land owned by the state of California. Syar eventually purchased part of the leased land in 1998.

The state government owns Skyline Park, but leases it to Napa County, which turned over operations and management to the Skyline Park Citizens' Association through a concession agreement.

Glaros and Syar representative John Perry say each side has had an amicable relationship in resolving the issue. The permitting process for the quarry expansion offers an opportunity to do so, Perry said.

“We’ve had a very good relationship with the county and the park association,” Perry said.

He declined to discuss in detail Syar’s plans for quarry expansion, saying the company wants to wait until the draft environmental impact report is slated to be released. The company has sent the county plans for its proposal, but is waiting to see what kind of alternatives Napa County offers, he said.

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