Last month, UC Berkeley city planning graduate students held a presentation at the City Council Chambers to provide an analysis of the Oxbow area and showcase design ideas that would strengthen the district’s sense of place. The class developed conceptual ideas around transportation, public space, trails and development, many of which seek to expand access to the Napa River.
Among the students’ primary goals were access, resilience and activation—all of which informed their reimaginings of the Oxbow district. Strategies for enhancement by the Oxbow Bypass include:
- River terrace seating to create an interactive connection to the Napa River
- Creating a pedestrian-only space on McKinstry Street to reintegrate the bypass as a public space
- Developing a stormwater retention pond to enhance visual interest while also serving as an environmental benefit
Their guiding principles—natural, active and accessible—aided their reimaginings of the RiverLine Trail. The class recommended porous asphalt, as it is a cost-effective, environmentally sustainable option that works well for pedestrians and cyclists alike. Additionally, porous asphalt can aid infiltration and storage of rainwater where it falls.
Proposed access points to the Napa River were also included in the recommendations. With new RiverLine access areas, each area would offer a different way to experience the river:
- Beach access: Implementing gravel, sand and stone steps to create a soothing ambiance along the river.
- Terrace access: Even if water levels fluctuate along the terraced steps, visitors can experience the river on the boardwalk.
- Slipway access: With a new bridge nearby, picnic tables, a storage building and a long ramp for boat and kayak launch, the slipway is an ideal gathering space for recreation of all kinds.
As placemaking remains a priority in Napa, the City is grateful for the UC Berkeley class’s in-depth research and presentation to visualize enhancements in the Oxbow district. For the final analysis and presentation, visit Napa RiverLine Project’s site.