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TriMet weighs closing path near Willow Creek MAX station due to mischief complaints

Posted by on June 3rd, 2014 at 9:59 am

beaverton creek max path street view
The south end of the path, looking north
from Baseline Road.
(Image: Google Street View, 2012)

A series of complaints about illegal and annoying activity on a narrow 350-foot path near the Willow Creek MAX stop has TriMet considering closing the route to the public.

The link runs from the Beaverton MAX platform to West Baseline Road, between a residential subdivision and a KinderCare day care center. It’s one of the few bike and pedestrian links across the MAX tracks in the area; the shortest detour would lengthen any trips that now use the path by up to two-tenths of a mile, or about four minutes on foot.

“There’s been some drug use and some vandalism along there,” TriMet spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt said Monday. “There can be people yelling. … People just don’t feel that it’s the safest path.”

TriMet outreach specialist Clay Thompson added in an email that the agency has been hearing about the path for “several years.”


“There have been incidents of loitering, drug use, vandalism, accumulation of trash and hypodermic needles, aggressive behavior and other mischief, generating complaints from nearby neighbors and fellow transit riders,” he said.

“Every time we do a patrol, it’ll clear up, and you know, when the police are gone, the nuisance behavior comes right back,” Alstadt said.

beaverton creek path map

The agency has distributed information to users of the path, asking for feedback on the proposal to close it. The deadline for public comment is this Sunday, June 8. Email any thoughts to willowcreekpath@trimet.org.

KinderCare spokeswoman Colleen Moran confirmed that their facility at 18685 SW Baseline Road had filed complaints in the past about people on the path.

“Last time they filed a complaint was more than a year ago, so we really haven’t had any issues in the last year,” Moran said. “When we filed our complaint, TriMet was out there really quickly. So we’ve had a good partnership.”

The path runs over KinderCare property. TriMet maintains the path due to a public easement. Moran said the company has no position on whether or not the path should be closed, but that it’s open to the possibility that either outcome might be best for the community.

“Obviously it’s a useful service for MAX riders, and that includes some of our parents,” Moran said.

Correction 4:40 pm: Earlier versions of this post misstated the amount of out-of-direction travel required for a detour.


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Comments
  • tedder June 3, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Six minutes for six tenths of a mile? That’s a ten minute mile. Not exactly walking speed.

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  • Alan 1.0 June 3, 2014 at 10:21 am

    six-tenths of a mile, or about six minutes on foot

    That’s a mile in ten minutes or six miles per hour, about twice a typical walking pace. If that’s really the distance of the detour, it’s more like ten minutes for quick walkers, longer for slower ones.

    What else have they tried? Lighting? Limbing up trees? Less opaque fencing?

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor) June 3, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      You guys are right – somehow I mistranscribed the walking distance. It’s four-tenths of a mile, compared to less than one-tenth for the path, so I’ve adjusted the required detour to “three-tenths” and added a correction. Thanks for catching that.

      Six minutes is about right, though.

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      • Michael Andersen (News Editor) June 3, 2014 at 5:48 pm

        Another update: six minutes isn’t right either! Google missed the sidewalk on the south side of the parking lot, and so did I. The potential diversion is about four minutes, or two-tenths of a mile.

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  • Peter W June 3, 2014 at 10:30 am

    There was some discussion last year about Ordinance 771 in Washington County and the need for better bike/ped accessway and/or carfree street design standards. Oregon Walks and BTA weighed in but I don’t think all of suggested changes were incorporated.

    This seems like a good example of what might happen if you don’t get the design right: tall fences creating enclosed spaces that are perfect for undesirable behavior.

    I hope WashCo gets the next design right, because I don’t think this is it. (But I also hope they improve this location because I use it every time I go to Willow Creek!)

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  • K'Tesh June 3, 2014 at 10:43 am

    I’d suggest that every tree limb below 10′ be removed, this would decrease the area that undesirable activity can hide in. Additional lights between the trees would also be a good idea. Vandals don’t like places where they can’t hide.

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  • q`Tzal June 3, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Seems like a good excuse to put up overlapping cameras that actually do what the ominous signs I’d insist be included say:
    This area is under video surveillance to reduce dangerous and illegal activities. The video facial recognition system will automatically alert the police of the identities of person(s) loitering in this through way and appropriate enforcement will be taken.

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  • Allan June 3, 2014 at 11:03 am

    This path always seemed goofy to my, a result of NIMBY neighbors right next to it that have their cul de sac fenced off from the path. If their worries didn’t influence the design this area wouldn’t be a haven for crime but just a path

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  • Lynne June 3, 2014 at 11:05 am

    If the path is closed, the only way in is SW Edgeway, off SW 185th Ave. SW 185th is an exceedingly busy high speed road. When there aren’t drug users, this path is excellent and useful, not only for those wanting to access MAX, but for those cycling to PCC along SW Baseline. However, it is sketchy with the trees and fence.

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  • al m June 3, 2014 at 11:24 am

    So they propose that riders walk all the way out to 185th and around to Baseline?
    DUMB DUMB DUMB and obviously the people at Trimet allowing this to go forward have no clue about the Willow Creek Transit Center and its layout.
    PUT A CAMERA IN THERE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.
    It’s good enough for every other Trimet location is should be good enough here.
    What a stupid idea.

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  • Tom June 3, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Or reroute to the other side of Kindercare. Its an open field with lots of visibility from Baseline. No place to hide. Then add cameras and lighting anyway.

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    • John Lascurettes June 3, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      I looked at the satellite view and thought the same thing.

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  • Matti June 3, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    This is a great example of an original design that was so enclosed by fencing that it creates a hiding spot. The path becomes a cattle chute and the connection to SW Lisa Court is fenced off. Take a look at a street view from Lisa Court. It is ugly and scary. Open it up to allow views and pedestrians and you remove much of the problem, not to mention improving connectivity.

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    • Psyfalcon June 3, 2014 at 1:12 pm

      Who thought it would be a good idea to block the entire neighborhood from accessing it through Lisa Ct?

      It treats all the riders like criminals who need to be fenced off and unseen from the neighborhood, and surprise, invites criminals or addicts who can hide.

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    • Jason Brune June 3, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      It used to be open to Lisa Ct., but I assume the people on that street complained and had it fenced off.

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  • Rian Murnen June 3, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    This sidewalk is uncomfortably enclosed–narrow with tall fences. And there is effectively no visibility from the station platform or the street. People driving by aren’t able to lend any deterrence and the KinderCare is vacant at night so there is no commercial activity in the evening .

    The alternate route if this was closed, regardless of how fast or slow you walk, _feels_ like a long way. If your coming from the retail stores or the neighborhood to the SW, it is definitely enough to make the difference between “I’ll walk up to MAX quick” and “I’ll hop in the car.”

    Why the path was wedged between KinderCare and the residential buildings is the core question to ask. The lot on the NW corner of Baseline and 185th has been vacant as long as I can remember–at least 30-yrs or more. Seems like a great location for a public green space with clear line of sight that the path could be relocated too. Anybody have a good way of finding out who owns it and why its been unimproved for so long?

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    • Peter W June 4, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      > The lot on the NW corner of Baseline and 185th has been vacant as long as I can remember–at least 30-yrs or more. Seems like a great location for a public green space with clear line of sight that the path could be relocated too. Anybody have a good way of finding out who owns it and why its been unimproved for so long?

      The County may be able to at least partially answer that question; they should have the ownership data.

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  • Spiffy June 3, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    loitering, drug use, vandalism, accumulation of trash and hypodermic needles, aggressive behavior and other mischief

    if that’s all the criteria they need then they’ll be closing most of Portland, especially the waterfront park…

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  • Spiffy June 3, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    the shortest detour would lengthen any trips that now use the path by up to six-tenths of a mile, or about six minutes on foot.

    Google says that it’s .4 miles and 7 minutes to walk from one end of the path to the other via Edgeway/185th/Baseline…

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  • Spiffy June 3, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    property maps are showing that this property belongs to the
    Baseline KinderCare… I’m assuming there’s some kind of easement that TriMet has for this path…

    it looks like they intentionally created this problem by putting a privacy fence and closely spaced trees to hide the path…

    I’d remove half of those trees, every other one on every other side, and install lights… I’d also remove the fence that separates it from Lisa Dr so that it opens the path up… and block the opening into the KinderCare front yard…

    there’s no reason to close the path…

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  • Suburban June 3, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    It is currently functioning exactly as it was designed to function. Maybe it just needs some stakeholder meetings and then to be re-striped and have some signs installed explaining how to use the space.

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  • paikiala June 3, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    the occasional enforcement effort, one officer from each end and one in the cul-de-sac, randomly for a few months might help as well. Tri-Met knows how to deal with this. They had a whole process for the light rail station at 82nd and I-84.

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  • Bob Ross June 3, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Oh no, not yelling. Anything but that.

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  • Opus the Poet June 3, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    Perhaps all Portland streets should be closed off for the same reasons?[/snark] and there is an open tag in the article somewhere that is making the comments italicized.

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  • David McCabe June 3, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    What I wrote to TriMet:

    Dear TriMet,

    I live in downtown Portland and use the Willow Creek path when traveling to Beaverton.

    In my neighborhood, there are drug addicts, itinerants, drunks, vandals and buskers on every sidewalk. What I would pay to never again hear the song “Mama Tried to Raise Me Better”! Yet I can’t imagine the city simply shutting down a downtown sidewalk because it was frequented by unwelcome people. The sanctity of public space is at issue. The neighbors’ rights extend to the edge of their property; their interests must not encroach on the public right-of-way.

    Sincerely,

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  • stasia:) June 3, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Don’t forget, all of you who are leaving comments here, that Trimet is actually soliciting comments to help make a decision on this. If you have a strong opinion about how the path could work, sent it to Trimet after you post it here. Otherwise they’ll never know.

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  • Dwaine Dibbly June 3, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Why is it that every time I hear about a cool new spot for engaging in illicit activity, somebody has to ruin it?

    On a serious note, moving the path to the other side of Kindercare seems to make sense, if an easement can be negotiated. I’d do the camera & sign thing, too, just for good measure.

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  • Tim Davis June 3, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    All the great suggestions that you amazing folks have are proof yet again that BikePortland is the greatest site out there–and with the greatest followers and post-article comments!! :)

    I incorporated numerous ideas into a fairly long email that I just wrote to willowcreekpath@trimet.org, begging Trimet to keep the path open. And like stasia above wrote, Trimet will *never* know of your great suggestions if you don’t write to them!

    As many of you have pointed out, the problems have ZERO to do with the path itself; rather, it’s the entire framework *surrounding* the path. And the frightened NIMBY neighbors created exactly the crime-inducing area they feared by walling it off so badly.

    Thanks again for all the great suggestions that you had! And help me get the word out to willowcreekpath@trimet.org! :)

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    • Doug Klotz June 3, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      I would suggest, as I have said for years, that a 10 or 15′ wide path, with fences on both sides, is eventually going to end up closed because of illicit activity. Pedestrian and bike-only paths are a problem in many cases. They should never be the preferred method. A full street, with a 60 foot wide right of way, with buildings fronting on both sides, is much safer. Connections to all adjacent rights of way should remain open, unlike what is apparently the case here.

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  • Joe June 3, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    Interesting first I heard of this area being hard to keep positive. :( closing might not be the correct choice, but i’m a bike guy that just takes up very little space on the train :) * how come everyone blocks the bike hooks these days * hmmm ( starting to feel that trimet is more park n ride based and anyone that lives in that world blocks everything that they feel is getting in the way or slowing them down )

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  • Jason McHuff June 3, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Who is the “they” in “Last time they filed a complaint was more than a year ago”?

    And regarding the path, it could use some Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, which is something TriMet does know about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0SVTFQbs5Q

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor) June 4, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      “They” is the KinderCare staff on site. The spokeswoman works out of their corporate office, and interviewed them to relay information to me in the phone interview.

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      • Brian June 25, 2014 at 9:49 pm

        Do we know what time of day the incidents Tri-met is concerned about mostly occur? If it is at night presumably KinderCare`s on-site staff would not be there to witness it and file a complaint.

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  • F.W. de Klerk June 4, 2014 at 7:07 am

    Where there is MAX there is misery.

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    • noah June 4, 2014 at 7:57 am

      At least in right-wing fantasies of how the world oughta be.

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    • GlowBoy June 4, 2014 at 11:08 am

      Misery? I’ve ridden MAX most working mornings for over 10 years. Most of the time it’s rather more wonderful than miserable.

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  • estherc June 4, 2014 at 10:35 am

    wow, just surrender to the criminals. Great idea Beaverton police.

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  • El Biciclero June 4, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Where’s Batman when you need him?

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  • Jonathan Cantrell June 5, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    I created a Facebook page to go against this. Please like it so we can help spread the word. Do not close down this path.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Keep-the-Willow-Creek-Path-Open/258337521036068?fref=nf

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    • Tim Davis June 5, 2014 at 9:32 pm

      Awesome! Thanks so much for doing this, Jonathan! I “liked” the page about 5 seconds after I saw your post. :) Let’s use this opportunity to educate Trimet and tons of other officials about placemaking, good design,creating safer environments, not caving in to fear, and tons of other things that they need to be doing to make this a better city and metro area for ALL people.

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  • Jim June 17, 2014 at 9:51 am

    I suppose I’m a late comer, but for what it’s worth, I live on Lisa Ct. To those who suggest that the path be re-opened to Lisa Ct., I say ‘NO WAY’. You can use whatever acronym you want, but criminals and children do not mix. If you are truly not concerned about illicit activity in your back yard, then please let us all know where we can send it. We would be happy to be rid of it. The reason the path is closed to Lisa Ct. is because Lisa Ct. was an even BETTER hiding area; absolutely invisible from Baseline or the transit platform. Anyway, I do think the path should remain open. I haven’t counted, but I’d guess that at least 200 people use it daily. If they could find a way to re-route it behind KinderCare, that might be ok too. Any solution should include security cameras. There are none installed today.

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