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Ventura River parkway plan aims to develop area

July 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Ventura River isn't much of a destination spot these days. Not only is it polluted and overgrown, it's a haven for the homeless. All of that may soon change. The Friends of the Ventura River organization detailed a plan Wednesday that promises to transform the area.

Julie Peterson fears a proposed plan to turn the Ventura River into a beautiful parkway will uproot her and her friends from the place they have called home for years. For decades, the Ventura River had a reputation for being a haven for the homeless.

"Where are we going to go? We're going to go up to the streets where they really don't want us. This is where we live. That is going to cost so much money. Why don't they turn it into something for us?" said Peterson.

The river is located near downtown Ventura. Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett says all residents should be able to enjoy it and he believes the parkway plan is a great plan.

"We want to connect the ocean with the mountains with a recreation trail that goes up the river," said Bennett. "We want to connect the city with the river so that people feel much more ownership and we don't have this just be a place for people to escape."

"What we really want to do is convert what exists there today into an asset to the community where we have trails and public access," said Paul Jenkin, part of Friends of the Ventura River.

Bennett says the plan is in its infancy and funding has yet to be discussed. He says he and other proponents of the parkway are looking into how to help the homeless in the area find other shelter.

Officials say no matter what, the Ventura River deserves a facelift sooner rather than later.