Susanville resident Jim Reichle, a teacher at Lassen High School who lives right around the corner from the Richmond Road bridge over the Susan River, wants to help improve the area known as the rocks and make it safer and more user friendly.
According to an email from Reichle, “I am working with Quincy McCourt, project manager at the city of Susanville, to put in a grant proposal specifically to enlarge and improve parks in town. The piece I am working on is to do something with the swim rocks on Richmond Road near the high school. It is an incredible natural feature right in town. However, it has been abused for years.”
According to Reichle, the grant sought by the city is called Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Program.
Reichle met with residents who recreate in the area at 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 11 — the first of three community meetings he’s planned at the rocks “to gather ideas of what changes people would like” to make.
“I would also like to have a meeting that targets surrounding neighborhoods and another that invites law enforcement and emergency services,” Reichle said.
He’s planned a neighborhood meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 25 at the rocks and another meeting with first responders at 6 p.m. July 21 at the rocks.
“My personal hopes are that changes will highlight the beauty, will promote positive visitors (as opposed to some negative folks), and make the area much cleaner and safer,” Reichle said, “but we really want to hear ideas from the public.”
Meeting with community members at the rocks
Reichle said with the end of the school year, he expected to see a lot of teenagers swimming in the Susan River at the rocks, but he was surprised those expectations were not met.
“The responses and ideas people had were really interesting,” Reichle said of the people he encountered at last Tuesday’s meeting.
While Reichle expected teenagers, he encountered several family groups swimming in the river instead.
He said the families said they would like to see better access to the area and they thought it could be cleaner.
He said the idea of better access “never even occurred to me.”
He said the first dirt part of the trail to river near the bridge is steep and slippery and there is no access from the other side at all unless you’re “willing to jump off the cliff.”
The families told Reichle they came to swim at the river because they can’t afford the cost of swimming at the Honey Lake Valley Community Pool.
“They said they’d love to go swim at the pool, but it’s just too much,” Reichle said.
He said the families he encountered were a mom and four or five kids, and they said the just couldn’t afford to have the whole family swim at the pool.
And the families told him they’d tried swimming at other parts of the river, but other locations didn’t work for them — there are too many mosquitoes at Hobo Camp right now and too many round, slippery rocks in the river behind the high school.
“They love it that they can just jump in and swim and then jump out,” Reichle said.
Some folks Reichle spoke with said they just leave if people come to the rocks and start drinking alcohol.
Reichle said he’s looking forward to working on the project and discovering new ideas.
“It’s really interesting,” Reichle said. “What I love about it is it’s not what I thought it would be. There were a lot of good ideas that came from that.”