Happy trail for Freeland Park?

Bikers, walkers and runners will soon get a smooth trip along the bluff in Freeland Park starting this year.

A new, multi-use trail through the park is scheduled for completion this summer. Commissioners for the Port of South Whidbey paved the way for construction this week when they resolved to do the work out of the Port's small works roster, instead of waiting for Island County Public Works to find the time for the project.

The trail is planned to run through the interior section of Freeland Park, starting at the lower parking lot near the picnic area, then running over the bluff to connect with Shore Avenue, the road leading to Nichols Brothers Boat Builders. Plans are to asphalt the trail.

The trail is the first phase of a plan that will include a circular trail around the park connecting with one planned for the east side of Myrtle Avenue to Main Street in Freeland. A design and bid request for the project are the next steps.

A paved trail was the preferred option when the Port commissioners talked over the issue Wednesday night at their monthly meeting. However, the commissioners still need to decide whether the trail should be six feet or eight feet wide.

Port engineer Tom Roehl said he preferred the wider option.

"The main reason for paving the trail and making it eight feet wide is to conform with the American Disabilities Act and for ease of use by multiple users, hikers, bicyclists, dog walkers etc," Roehl said.

He said the wide trail will also make it easier for maintenance trucks to access the park. Cost is also a consideration.

"Less than eight feet will be more expensive because asphalt buckets are set-up to lay eight foot wide areas," Roehl said.

However, Port Chairwoman Lynae Slinden suggested a six foot wide trail would be sufficient to handle the foot traffic.

Commissioner Gene Sears agreed.

"We' re not trying to land an airplane on it, we just want a trail."

The Port originally wanted Island County to design and build the trail, but due to the county's public works construction schedule this year, they would not be able to work on the trail until 2003.

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