Compromise reached on new trail plan

By making a few minor changes to a proposed hiking trail, South Whidbey Parks and Recreation officials satisfied neighbors who had complained about its proximity to their property.

The parks board of commissioners agreed to widen buffer zones in the proposed Trustland Trail to 50 feet from 10 feet and to add physical barriers at intersections to discourage people from wandering off onto private land.

The Nov. 20 meeting was attended by a handful of people, including the Petersons family.

Commissioners also approved the park district’s 2019 $1.1 million budget.

The Trustland Trail is one of three additional trails being added in the South Whidbey trail network that is regularly used by walkers, runners and people exercising their horses.

It’s located in a 200-acre preserve near Highway 525 just off Craw Road. Construction of an additional trail in the preserve was abruptly stopped a year ago when neighbors complained it was too close to their land and that they’d been left out of the decision process.

One of the problems cited by neighbors is that the Trustland Trail route intersects with an old logging road, making it appear to be part of the public trail system.

“It intersects at a 90-degree angle so it sure looks like the logging road belongs to the park,” Anna Petersons pointed out at the recent meeting.

Commissioner Don Wood suggested natural barriers were needed at intersections with the logging road because it leads directly to private property.

“If people see a logging road, they’ll follow it,” he said.

Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the Trustland Trails plan once amended changes were added to the design description.

Parks and Recreation Director Doug Coutts advised that signs alerting hikers to respect private property be made and be ready to be posted before the trail is completed.

Upon leaving the meeting, the Petersons thanked the commissioners for listening.

Other residents had submitted comments on a number of trails and projects during an open house several weeks ago.

The Campground Perimeter Trail and Community Park Trail, which connects to an existing trail and creates a loop, was approved.

Commissioners also reviewed a five-year budget projection that Coutts described as “fairly accurate.”

“However, there will be factors that will change,” he said. “This projection is based on what we know, what will happen as best as we know.”

Board treasurer Matt Simms said the projected revenues and expenses for 2019 were similar to the previous year.

Purchasing a new rotary mower needed for the expansive upkeep of playing fields and grounds was also approved. Coutts said a demo unit was found that would cost $60,598 with the trade-in of the old mower; it’s being financed with a loan.

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