Trail Blazers

“What we’ve got here is this huge opportunity,” Fred Watson says. “It’s too good to stand by and watch it disappear.”

Two years ago, when Fred Watson saw the plans for The Promontory – a 174-unit dormitory currently under construction at CSU Monterey Bay – he was of two minds.

“It’s a great project, and we definitely need the beds,” says Watson, a CSUMB professor of science and environmental policy.

But he was troubled by one detail: Through the middle of the proposal was land designated as a “trail-open space link” by the Fort Ord Reuse Plan. “It made me think: Nobody is looking out for this stuff,” he says.

Watson teamed with fellow CSUMB professor Scott Waltz and other volunteers to launch a project with long-term vision. Watson and Waltz call it the Fort Ord Rec Trail and Greenway, aka FORTAG.

“Geographically you can think of it as two loops,” Watson says. The northern is a 13-mile lap around Marina, the southern a 15-mile circle around Seaside and Del Rey Oaks, with the two connecting at CSUMB.

Watson says creating the loops will require 22 new miles of paved trail, as well as securing enough land for it to bisect a 300-foot-wide swath of green space. He imagines it will be pieced together over a series of years and be funded by combination of developers, cities and grants.

Watson and Waltz – who have both put about 1,000 hours into the project over the last two years – presented their latest version of FORTAG at a Nov. 20 Marina City Council study session.

“It’s a wonderful project,” Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado says. “It’s the kind of thing the city staff could never get enough time to get around to.”

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