The concept of a trail as anticipated by the Missing Link as a regional connector in not a “new idea.” Rather, it is a long-standing idea whose time has come. The idea for a trail and greenway along the Santiago Creek was initially proposed through local planning documents in the 1950s and 1960s. The first known public planning effort for Santiago Creek was included as part of a larger Orange County’s Santa Ana River-Santiago Creek Corridor General Plan, in March, 1971. Working with consultants and a citizens’ advisory committee, the County of Orange assessed the Santa Ana River and Santiago Creek, as a “link in the tri-county coast-to-crest greenbelt,” a concept proposed more than 20 years earlier (Eckbo, Dean, Austin and Williams 1971).
Trails were regarded as the single most important objective of the 1971 corridor plan:
Trails along the River and Creek are the backbone of this entire greenway and recreation system. They are the significant continuous element. Where possible, trails should be provided on both sides of the River, with occasional crossings. It is best to plan separate trails for horseback riders, bike riders, and walkers (Eckbo, Dean, Austin and Williams 1971: 32-33).
The Santa Ana River – Santiago Creek plan for Orange County was adopted by the Board of Supervisors on June 23, 1971 (Wells 1976: 12, citing Resolution No. 71-724).
It is clear that a trail in the Missing Link is not a new idea. Indeed, a trail in the Missing Link has been a long-standing historical fact and a valuable resource for the City of Santa Ana and its residents.
It is clear that the area of the Missing Link has long been used historically for the similar purposes that we are promoting currently. Historical photographs from the early part of the 20th Century depict the use of this area in this regard. These photographs demonstrate that a widely used trail in the area of Jack Fisher Park, going into Santiago Creek has been long-standing. Photographs depict not only the layout and configuration of a trail in the Creek but also bicycle racks in Jack Fisher Park itself. There is a trail that has been utilized in the areas of the Missing Link continuously as far as anyone alive today can remember.
The above improvements were made in the 1930′s era when the WPA-built retaining walls, with steps leading down to the Creek and the trail.
A trail in the Missing Link had equal importance to the early settlers of Santa Ana as it does currently to the neighbors in adjoining neighborhoods (see the above image of Jack Fisher Park with an image of a large bicycle rack.) A build-out of the Missing Link, rather than disrupting any cultural resource of Santa Ana, would in fact restore that area of Santiago Creek back to its historical legacy.
The stairways to the trail, now fenced off, still exist in Fisher Park.