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Volunteers help blaze new trail to Community Park
It isn’t the pathway it started out to be, but it’s not a bad beginning, thanks to the county and an enthusiastic group of asphalting volunteers.
A third of a mile of multi-use trail that leads from South Whidbey Intermediate School to the entrance to South Whidbey Community Park is nearly finished.
“It’s a wonderful asset for the students and the community,” said Joantha Guthrie, project manager for the Island County Public Works Department.
The trail, designed for walkers, joggers, bicycles and horses, follows along Maxwelton Road from the intermediate school to across from the park entrance.
Yet to be added are a string of 8-by-8-inch posts to discourage vehicle drivers, and a crosswalk across Maxwelton to the park entrance, complete with solar-powered flashing lights, Guthrie said.
She said the crosswalk portion should be finished within six to eight weeks. Officials are still waiting for some parts.
When it was conceived about 10 years ago, the trail was to run from near the Island County Fairgrounds in Langley through the woods to Maxwelton Road, then along Maxwelton to the park.
A federal grant of more than $243,000 was secured, and preliminary engineering was completed.
Between the fairgrounds and the road, the pathway was to run through the woods along the boundary lines of about 10 private properties. But owners of a couple of parcels wouldn’t grant easements, and that segment of the project had to be shelved, Guthrie said.
“At this point, there are no specific plans to revive that,” she said. “But we’ll continue to work with community groups. If the community comes together, then absolutely we would do it.”
Meanwhile, she said all credit goes to the South Whidbey School District for granting use of school property for the section of the trail about to be completed.
“I’m grateful to the school district for letting us do it,” Guthrie said.
This past week, six employees of Island Asphalt in Clinton were soaking up the sun and fumes while laying down an eight-foot-wide strip of steaming trail mix about three inches thick.
They were working for free, and had brought along a paving machine, backhoe and roller to lay out the hot compound paid for and trucked in by the county.
“We’re just getting started in the season, so we had the time to do it,” said Curt Gordon, owner of Island Asphalt. “We thought we’d give the county guys a break.”
Gordon said the volunteering idea was hatched by one of his employees, Garth Sandberg of Clinton, and “we started calling around to see who’d come to the party.”
County Public Works Director Bill Oakes gave the go-ahead, and the rest is paving history.
“It’s just a great day,” Gordon added. “We really lucked out on the weather.”
Guthrie said the volunteer effort saved thousands of dollars.
“It was fantastic,” she said. “They’re a real community-oriented organization.”
Guthrie said that the federal grant was used for the trail segment about to be completed and for other projects, and that for now the county has no more money for pathway development in the South End.
“But I have a whole trail plan of projects I’d like to get funded,” she added.
Walkers may have have to watch where they step. Guthrie said that while there’s no rule that horse riders must clean up after their mounts along the new trail, the issue probably isn’t vital.
“It’s organic,” she said of equestrian deposits. “It breaks down and can be composted.”