Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 31st, 2012 at 12:34 pm
Metro is gearing up for a series of open houses to let the public weigh in on their Westside Trail project. The project spurred controversy earlier this summer when residents of the Oak Hills area of unincorporated Washington County objected to plans to have the shared-use path run through property adjacent to their homes. The path segment in question is just one-third of a mile and runs north of Highway 26 between NW Bethany Blvd and NW 143rd Ave.
The Oak Hills residents have come to think of the land adjacent to their homes as their own private property, but the land is actually owned by the federal government (it's a powerline corridor for the Bonneville Power Administration). According to The Oregonian, residents have even posted "Private Property" signs in the area. Now, with Metro pushing forward with the project, members of the Oak Hills Homeowners Association are not pleased that what has long been a de facto private playground is now slated to become a public place for bicycling and walking.
At stake is a one-third mile connection of the long-awaited Westside Trail, a 16-mile off-highway path that will eventually go from the Tualatin River, through Beaverton, up and over Forest Park and into St. Johns.
Reader Stephen F., who is one of several people who alerted us to this story, says he's surprised that people would object to the promise of a new biking and walking path. "Frankly, I can't believe the paranoia from the Oak Hills Home Owner Association. The Westside Trail would be a huge amenity for the neighborhood."
The Oregonian Editorial Board agrees. In June they wrote that the folks in Oak Hills, "… should embrace the Westside Trail," and they went on to state, "Practically, we're totally for it. We're for it because the segment, stretching about one third of a mile, is an easily converted link in the 25-mile trail . We're for it, too, because all citizens own the corridor."
Mary-Anne Cassin, a staffer in Metro's park planning and development division, says things have been quiet since the uproar in June. "We are getting ready to hold open houses in October," she told us this week, "We've been doing technical studies in that [Oak Hills] section and we'll want to get as big a turnout for that discussion as possible."
This isn't the first time a biking and walking pathway project has upset nerves of homeowners in Washington County. Back in 2009, residents made headlines when the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation Department wanted to develop a segment of the Fanno Creek Trail.
Stay tuned for details on the upcoming Metro open houses.