PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County can get 2.5 miles closer to connecting to the Olympic Discovery Trail after the Jefferson County commissioners voted unanimously to approve the creation of a new segment of trail from Four Corners Road to Anderson Lake State Park.
An overflow crowd packed the Jefferson County commissioners meeting room Monday as 17 residents gave testimony during the public hearing.
John Fleming of the Public Works staff said the trail segment is projected to run from Four Corners at the Jefferson Transit Authority property, align with power lines, and run south, staying within private timber property owned by Pope Resources.
It would continue along that property to its south property line with no impact on the private property adjacent to the parcel. The trail will then run east to intersect and overlap a common property line with Anderson Lake State Park.
The resolution allows the commission to acquire the public right of way on a willing-seller basis.
“We are not condemning property,” Fleming said. “We have to have agreement for the sale to allow the trail to go in and perform preliminary engineering.”
He said the study viewed more than 120 miles of digital routes and boiled it down to a north section, a center section and a south section.
“We’re trying to get as much of the trail built as quickly as possible. We’re focusing on the north section first, because it was generally agreed that a trail running through Anderson Lake Park was a destination that is worthy of extending the current Larry Scott [Trail] down to.”
Currently, those wishing to recreate between the current end of the Larry Scott Trail at Milo-Curry Road and the beginning of the Olympic Discovery Trail at Gardiner Road East in Discovery Bay must share a 7-mile stretch of state Highway 20, a narrow, winding road, with passenger cars and commercial trucks.
Jeff Michaelson of Four Corners Road told commissioners that one of the plans had the trail down the east side and south side of his property
“It was very concerning to me that the trail was going to run on my property,” Michaelson said. “I was informed this morning that the trail was not going to go down that path, which was a relief to me. There are security concerns. It will be a challenge to control it.”
Alec Jensen of Malamute Lane said he uses the trail and supports the path but has concerns that the trail might become a shortcut to Anderson Lake Road for ATVs and 2-stroke motorcycles that he said currently illegally use an easement for the city and the mill for water.
Scott Walker from Port Townsend said 40 years ago he helped fund the trails coalition with Larry Scott and Rick Tollefson.
“I can’t believe it’s taken this long to get to this point,” Walker said. “We thought we could reroute traffic over 104 and 19 and take over Highway 20 for bicycles. For crying out loud, 30 plus years.”
Juelie Dalzell of Cape George Road said she wanted residents to know that she’s never had a problem with security and the trail goes through her property.
“I represent the horse community. This trail has been such a boon to us and it keeps older people active. We’re allowed to get out and about when our hips don’t work and our knees don’t work.”
Commissioner Kate Dean said the Legislature provided about $1 million dollars to help fund the project “with a lot of volunteer work by the Peninsula Trails Coalition.”
Jefferson County was awarded funds through the State Recreation & Conservation Office (RCO) for the planning, acquisition and development of trail segments with a vision of connecting the communities of the North Olympic Peninsula from La Push to Port Townsend with a 130-mile-long trail for bicyclists, pedestrians and equestrians.
The trail is expected to be incorporated into the 1,200-mile-long Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail running from Glacier National Park in Montana to the Pacific Ocean near Cape Alava, and the 3,700-mile, coast-to-coast Great American Rail Trail.
Jefferson County Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected].