Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group.
                                South Whidbey Parks and Recreation Director Doug Coutts talks about trail options at a recent forum. Commissioners are expected to vote on trail plans Tuesday.

Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group. South Whidbey Parks and Recreation Director Doug Coutts talks about trail options at a recent forum. Commissioners are expected to vote on trail plans Tuesday.

Board to decide trail proposals

Commissioners with South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District are expected to make decisions about controversial trail plans and projects Tuesday.

The five-member board of commissioners is set to discuss and vote on a series of proposed trails that were publicly reviewed at a recent trails open house meeting. The board meeting is 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 20. The meeting will be preceded by a budget hearing at 6 p.m.

Also on the agenda are how best to implement the first phase of the campground, capital projects and a summary review of the 2019 parks district budget.

The board received comments taken at the open house where the draft trail management plan, the overall linked trail network plan and proposed grant projects were reviewed by about two dozen residents.

Among the written comments submitted: Make horses pick up their poop, keep public trails 100 feet away from private property and make sure neighbors are notified before trail work begins.

Director Doug Coutts briefly explained the projects at the hour-long Nov. 7 meeting and encouraged written comments.

“We want feedback from you,” he said, before explaining the different maps taped around the room and the status of various parks grant applications.

Topics addressed included funding to purchase two 20-acre wooded plots, building a connecting loop on the Trustland Trails and identifying barriers and signs to use to keep hikers off private property.

The two tracts of land are directly across the street from Community Park on private property that kids have cut through on their way to school for many years. Known as the Waterman Trails acquisition, two grants would cover its purchase price, which is $596,000.

Coutts encouraged people to give constructive criticism if they disagreed with some proposals or ideas.

“If you don’t like it, give us suggestions on how to do it better,” he said.

Some of those in attendance at the trails informational meeting live near the proposed extension of the existing Trustland Trails, a 200-acre preserve near Highway 525 just off Craw Road.

It currently features a 1.3-mile, multi-use trail and a quarter-mile ADA loop trail. The paved nature loop can be used by people in wheelchairs and for those who require a flat, smooth surface on which to walk.

About one year ago, after South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District crews started building a connecting pathway to join sections of the Trustland Trails, neighbors complained that the trail was too close to their property and that they’d been left out of the trail planning process.

Parks commissioners decided to halt further construction of the trail and logs were placed in front of it to block access. Neighbors then submitted suggestions on an alternative route for the trail that would keep the public farther from their property lines.

Looking over the map, Anna Petersons said it didn’t look like those suggestions made any difference.

“This is exactly the same plan they had a year ago,” she said. “We commented last time and it didn’t change anything, I’m not sure it will do any good to comment again.”

Still, the Craw Road resident again wrote down her family’s objections to an existing plan which she said only contains a 10-foot buffer in some places between the public trail and private land.

l The Nov. 20 board meeting is at South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District building is at 5475 Maxwelton Road, Langley. The draft Trail Management Plan is online at http://swparks.org/about.

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