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Orange County

Laguna Woods Backs an El Toro Road Trail

April 04, 2002|DAVID HALDANE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a move that could give senior citizens more mobility to reach shopping malls and other attractions by foot, bicycle and possibly golf cart, the Laguna Woods City Council on Wednesday approved, in concept, a 2.5-mile trail parallel to El Toro Road.

City officials said the trail would be the first of its kind in Orange County.

"When seniors have to give up their [driver's] licenses it takes away their independence," said Brenda R. Ross, 86, one of three members of the five-seat council who voted for the trail. "I'm in favor of anything that keeps a senior independent and able to function." The average age of Laguna Woods' residents is 78.

Councilman Bert Hack, 72, said he voted against the project out of concern for safety and liability.

"When you mix people whose eyesight has become marginal and whose reflexes have slowed with high-speed traffic, it may be a recipe for problems," he said. "I'm not opposed to it, I just would like to have seen a legal analysis before we approved the concept. We are entering uncharted water."

Under the resolution approved, City Manager Leslie Keane said, city staff will proceed with design work on initial portions of the trail. The city also will study liability issues and begin looking for ways to pay for the trail, projected to cost $2 million. "We will be seeking grant funding for the majority of it," Keane said.

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