Quick Take:

Shareen Bell got spooked by the smell of wildfire that hung in the air around Santa Cruz County last week. It took her...

Greetings, Santa Cruz County. It’s Tuesday, Sept. 26, and our forecast calls for morning clouds gradually clearing, with sunshine and temps warming into the 70s and low 80s.

There’s a full slate of news and views from Lookout; if you’d prefer to sort through it at your own pace, step this way.
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Christopher Neely is up first, digging into a controversy that’s roiling Felton. Plans to replace the old volleyball court at Felton Covered Bridge Park with a mountain bike pump track have divided residents, some of whom are particularly irked at what they see as the county parks department allowing a local nonprofit to drive the process.

Ahead of Tuesday’s city council meeting, Christopher also has word of a deal to extend the Santa Cruz Warriors’ lease at the downtown Kaiser Permanente Arena, which could keep the Golden State Warriors’ developmental team for at least the next couple seasons as team and city pursue a permanent home.

From the education beat, Hillary Ojeda introduces us to another local student inventor (you might also remember this Santa Cruz fourth grader or this Watsonville second grader). Aptos’ Jack Driscoll-Natale, a senior at Pacific Collegiate School, has won numerous awards for a low-cost water-quality monitor he designed and built after finding a lack of publicly available data.

And in Lookout’s Community Voices opinion section, Santa Cruz resident Shareen Bell writes about how she has boosted her Westside neighborhood’s disaster preparedness by helping to found a chapter of Firewise. “Because we had organized our Firewise neighborhood, we were ready,” she writes of reacting to the 2020 CZU fire. “We had a list of immediate neighbors and we immediately went into action.”

The Tuesday headlines — also including our latest high school sports roundup — lie ahead, on the other side of this snapshot from Lookout photojournalist Kevin Painchaud.

Photo of the day

More than 80 community members gathered for the groundbreaking as repairs began on the Capitola wharf, damaged last winter
Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

About 80 people gathered Friday to celebrate the start of repairs to the Capitola Wharf, which was badly damaged in this winter’s storms. Originally built in 1857, the wharf had been rebuilt several times before the January storms. The winter surge wiped out a 925-square-foot section of the structure, severing it in two, along with damaging decking, railing, lights, utilities, stairs and a boat landing.

The $7.9 million reconstruction work, which was being planned long before the storms, will replace 37 piles and add 111 new ones, along with new decks, rails, a new public bathroom at the entrance to the wharf and a floating dock. A private citizens group is also working to raise $250,000 to beautify the wharf with a new entranceway, lights, seats and information kiosks. The work is expected to continue through late next year.

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Controversial pump track proposal divides Felton residents

Felton Covered Bridge Park, where plans to replace a derelict volleyball court with a biking pump track have sparked debate.
Felton Covered Bridge Park, where plans to replace a derelict volleyball court with a biking pump track have sparked debate. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

A plan by the Santa Cruz County Parks Department to replace the dilapidated volleyball court at Felton Covered Bridge Park with a 10,000-square-foot mountain bike training ground, known as a pump track, has driven a wedge between residents. Some feel the county — citing budget and staffing issues — has handed over too much control of the project to a private group. Read more from Christopher Neely.

MORE COUNTY POLICY AND POLITICS: Sign up here for In the Public Interest, Christopher’s Monday newsletter

UC Santa Cruz scientists contribute to release of first complete sequence of a human Y chromosome

Aptos teen couldn’t find data on health of local waterways, so he invented his own award-winning tool

Pacific Collegiate School senior Jack Driscoll-Natale with his water-quality monitor at the Santa Cruz Harbor.
Pacific Collegiate School senior Jack Driscoll-Natale with his water-quality monitor at the Santa Cruz Harbor. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

Pacific Collegiate School senior Jack Driscoll-Natale invented a low-cost water-quality monitor that’s easy to use and that he hopes will one day allow anyone from concerned citizens to environmental enthusiasts to understand what’s happening in the San Lorenzo River or the Santa Cruz Harbor. Hillary Ojeda has his story.

MORE STUDENT INVENTIONS: Fourth grader’s backpack | Second grader’s shoes

How construction skills, sustainability, and local housing needs collide at Cabrillo College’s CEM department PC roadblock

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We’ll give you some time to digest all that, but coming later is another edition of Lily Belli on Food, the latest news and notes from the Santa Cruz County food & drink scene. Sign up here for that and all of Lookout’s other newsletters, plus breaking news alerts via text and email; you can also stay current on all our offerings by following Lookout on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Threads.

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Your Tuesday awaits — get out there and put a charge into it.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz

A veteran jack-of-all-trades journalist who is Lookout’s copy editor, writes and compiles Morning Lookout newsletter and produces Lookout’s other editorial newsletters and helps run Lookout’s social...