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Gay Wilmerding: Use existing ROW and build a 5-ft wide Zylstra Trail

  • Written by Gay Wilmerding

To: Ms. Christine Minney--District 1, Ms. Cindy Wolf--District 2, Ms. Jane Fuller--District 3 

Dear Council Members,

Farmland is precious.

Rather than condemning almost ten acres of a nonrenewable resource for a new, unneeded right-of-way, why not utilize the underused existing r.ow. of about 60’?

Property owners on each side of San Juan Valley Road already gave easements of 30’ each.  The paved part is about 22’ with a 5’ bar ditch on either side leaving 28’ – only two feet shy of the proposed 30’ r.o.w.

Locating utilities underground reduces maintenance costs and would vastly improve sight lines while resulting in an unobstructed transportation corridor.  A 3’ gravel shoulder on either side of the bar ditches leaves 5’ for a paved bicycle trail on each side of the road.

Jigger widths a bit to protect trees or landscape features.  If traffic deaths in Washington State rose from 538 in 2019 to 745 in 2022, ditches serving as ha-has to separate cyclists and pedestrians from vehicles will mitigate the 38% increase. Residents and tourists alike benefit.

Dedicated bike lanes ought to meet federal funding requirements.  Use of 3-wheel scooters or mopeds need to be clarified.  Horse and foot traffic may prefer gravel surfaces to paved.

Given vocal opposition to the proposed trail among property owners along the road and in the neighborhood, costs of eminent domain litigation may exceed construction. Members in extended family ownership may utilize cost effective strategies to negotiate or to recuse all County judges and avoid local politics. Divisive lawsuits shatter families and community.

Please consider efficient use of space within bounds of the existing r.o.w. to preserve farmland and to minimize impact on livestock, tax payers and the environment.

Respectfully submitted,

Gay Wilmerding