County seeks input on future trails

Island County Public Works will be holding open houses from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Oct. 27, Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 to get public input on their non-motorized trails plan update. The Oct. 27 and Nov. 1 open houses will take place at the Coupeville and Oak Harbor libraries, respectively. The Oct. 30 one will occur at Freeland Library.

The county would like input from runners, cyclists, paddlers or “anyone else who explores Island County with their hands and feet,” according to their flier.

The events will feature poster boards displaying potential shoreline access projects, as well as descriptions of trail projects being considered for north, central and south Whidbey. These projects were identified through previous public open houses, previous trail plans, collaboration with trail providers and a technical review from county staff and a consultant, said Connie Bowers, assistant county engineer. The department is looking to see which projects are most important to the public through these open houses.

The potential shoreline public access points stood out to Island County commissioners Jill Johnson and Helen Price Johnson.

“It was exciting to see that there are so many places that could be considered,” Price Johnson said.

She felt that increasing awareness about where there is public shoreline already is an important step. She said she has always felt strongly about increasing shoreline access.

“Island County is made up of two beautiful islands, and the people that live here love to go to the beach,” she said.

Johnson also showed particular interest in proposed trail improvements to dike trails around Deer Lagoon because it’s along the water.

“I would move that high on my priority list,” she said.

She had more reservations about a proposed trail system that snakes along the Navy’s Langley Road and part of it along Ault Field Road. Johnson said she’d “need more convincing” on that project because the area is in an accident potential zone, which is an area an aircraft mishap is most likely to occur if one were to occur.

Overall, Johnson said she had the most support for shoulder widening projects rather than separated trails. She said the shoulder trails are easier to maintain and are most cost effective to put in. Displays at the open houses will include comparisons of paved shoulder projects with separated paths.

Information about the plan can be found on the county public works website.

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