Wednesday, May 15, 2013/lk
Imagine a sculpted, looping series of trails that wind through city neighborhoods, along creek sides, through parks, schools and open lands — allowing any trail user beautiful and easy access to experience Hood River on a personal, down-to-earth level.
Trail details and updates
Segment 1 – Is 1.1 mile in length. Access is off third and east Hazel and meanders along the high banks of the Hood River and Indian Creek. Ends at the Heights Shell Station on 12th Street.
Segment 2 – Is .7 mile in length. Access is across 12th Street, through ODOT, and private properties, as well as CGCC and Providence properties with formal easements. Dead ends at private property owned by the Campbells. Trail starts again at the end of Arrowhead Dr. with sidewalks and then crosses Indian Creek Dr. to connect with Broken Tee Dr.
Segment 3 – Is 1.2 mile in length. Begins off Broken Tee Dr. through Indian Creek Golf Course, heads all the way to the high school. There is also a trailhead/parking area in the high school baseball field parking, adjacent to Golden Eagle Park.
Segment 4 – Is 1+ mile in length connecting the high school to Barrett Park. This is the newest section crossing two private properties.
In completing Segment 4 the District had to reroute a drainage ditch on the Barrett Park property. DeHart Construction was hired to do the excavation and relocation.
Crossing Alameda Dr. involved a comprehensive transportation study. The County Public Works department partnered with the Park District in the installation of the signage required by the study.
Westside Community Trail:
The WCT takes you from Westside Elementary School to Sherman St. This trail crosses two pieces of private property where the district purchased easements for the trail. The district received a Local Government Grant from State Lottery dollars to assist in purchase of the easements and the development of the trail.
This east-west section involved building boardwalks and a short bridge to get over wet areas. The trail emerges at Rocky Rd. and walking is allowed on the city right of way.
The trail crosses May St. and continues on an easement through the Hood River County School District property. The trail continues on Sherman and dead ends.
The district is pursuing an easement with two property owners, the Clifton and Beardsley families.
The district needs to acquire an easement of 50 feet to connect to the Jensen property that would connect to Rand Road. The remaining trail segments are planned to connect to the Rotary Skate Park and the Disc Golf Course.
Hood River Parks and Recreation District has not only imagined it, it has been in great part responsible for making the imagined dream a reality.
Under the long-term guidance of Director Lori Stirn, the dedicated assistance of parks board member Art Carroll, the many volunteers, board members and organizations who have helped, Hood River is getting closer to the finish line for a continuous loop trail system within the city that joins into county trails.
“Our big vision is to connect neighborhoods and schools in the Urban Growth Boundary and to provide connections to lands, trails and neighborhoods in the county,” said Stirn.
“We believe these trails provide much needed recreational escapes whether walking or biking – and they add very healthy lifestyle opportunities.”
Stirn and the park district are charged first and foremost with operating the aquatic center; the special district was formed when the city opted out of the pool management business.
“The city was closing the pool and some local big vision-folks, like Mike Schend and others, thought that the special district would allow it to keep going,” said Stirn. Qualifying the district for a permanent tax rate of .34 cents per thousand has guaranteed the operating budget for the well-used facility.
The district also has responsibilities for maintenance of five recreational parks: Culbertson and Hazelview Neighborhood parks; Morrison Disc Golf park and the Rotary Skate park – both off of Wasco Street – and the latest addition, Barrett Park.
And, while Stirn would love to create some sort of efficient way of coordinating park maintenance across city, county, port and parks properties, right now, no formal agreement is in place to share maintenance tasks.
“It would be great if we could figure that out,” said Stirn. “Realistically parks are not a revenue generating activity. There has to be some way to fund the maintenance costs.” City and county budgets are also struggling with that same dilemma as tax revenues shrink in general across all jurisdictions.
What is working well over time within the district however, is the slow but steady process of sharing the big vision of a continuous trail system with the community and then obtaining the necessary easements with private and commercial property owners to make that a reality.
“We are very optimistic,” said Stirn, as she points out the almost-complete lines for the Indian Creek Trail and the newly developing Westside Community Trail. Only a few “dotted” segments remain – indicating the last few hundreds of feet in easements that are necessary for the initial goals.
About a dozen property owners including private families, Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, ODOT, Columbia Gorge Community College and the school district have already signed-up to bring the trail to life.
On the Indian Creek Trail, the Campbell property remains a key link toward completion and on the Westside Trail, properties owned by the Clifton and Beardsley families off of Sherman Avenue remain in negotiation.
Two other segments are on Stirn’s working docket, including a piece behind Westside Elementary School and a segment between Rand Road and 20th St. Both are tied to commercial property owners.
Recently acquired park land bordering Barrett and Alameda drives is already available for passive use, now incorporated into the Indian Creek Trail system. Although not much is visible in terms of signage, Barrett Park does exist. Its development remains minimal to date while the district awaits a ruling from the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals on the project, tied to the alleged conflict with current zoning as high-value farmland in an Exclusive Farm Use zone.
Again, Stirn remains hopeful. And her slow and steady philosophy has proven effective in the past.
A June 14, 2003 article in the Hood River News provides some evidence of that.
Stirn and Carroll are seen above left, in their younger days, standing atop a bluff that would soon become part of the trail system Hood River enjoys today. The actual concept for the Indian Creek Trail was introduced in 1998.
According to Stirn, it has been the commitment of local volunteers, donors and community partners that underlies the success of the system.
“And we are always looking for more donors,” said Stirn, who acknowledges that without those private funds and cooperative grant applications, existing funding would not have been adequate.
For those wishing to become involved in the trail system development through donations of time or funding, contact Stirn at 541-386-5720 or 541-490-6264.