Residents tour path set for new Willamette River Trail

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: PATRICK MALEE - Dozens of residents gathered at Willamette Park June 4 to tour what will soon become the Willamette River Trail.Residents were offered a sneak peek at the new Willamette River Trail June 4, as Parks and Recreation Director Ken Worcester led a group on a path that will soon become “phase one” of the project.

The trail, which will provide riverfront access over about 1.5 miles between Willamette Park and the West Linn Paper Company, has been on West Linn’s to-do list since a parks, recreation and open space plan was adopted in 1998. Yet it wasn’t until March 6 that the city held a pre-application meeting for the river trail, which likely will be completed by the end of the year.

The city currently has about $350,000 slated for the trail’s construction. If all goes according to plan, work will begin in the fall.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: PATRICK MALEE - The tour was led by Parks and Recreation Director Ken Worcester, who said he was excited to get started on the trail after what had been a long journey.

“It’s been kind of a long journey,” Worcester said before beginning the trail’s first hike. “We have an ambitious schedule; we’re finding out more and more about what we have to do, and I don’t think — regulatory wise — we have as many hurdles as I originally thought. So the first phase may go in quickly.”

Before the walk began, Worcester emphasized that this was only a test run for feedback. The trail’s path had only recently been mowed through, and the terrain was still rough.

“This isn’t necessarily the route,” Worcester said. “It was kind of the path of least resistance for the mowers.”

But the residents who took the walk did get a glimpse of what was to come — a serene path along the river, blanketed by foliage and even accompanied by the occasional deer.

“It’s a good start,” resident Stacey Kish said. “We would hope to see more of the river during the trail, but I understand there’s some blackberries that would be beneficial to move anyway.”

Indeed, though by law the path must stay at least 35 feet from the river, Worcester said visibility would improve with the removal of some invasive species near the water.

The path is also designed to be between 10 and 12 feet wide, thus ensuring it is accessible under the Americans With Disabilities (ADA) act, and for both walkers and bikers alike.

“So everybody should be able to enjoy it,” Worcester said, joking that “when I get my next hip replacement done, I’ll still be able to come down and do this.”

One concern that came up during the tour had to do with safety.

“It’s dark, it’s removed from the road,” Stacey Kish’s husband, Joe, said.

“We’re just mentioning it to them to see what they think,” Stacey Kish said. “It might be used enough that it wouldn’t be an issue.”

By tour’s end, longtime residents like Roger Shepherd came away feeling encouraged about the trail’s future.

“I’m very excited,” Shepherd said. “I’ve known about it and have been excited for a long time ... to finally see it come to fruition is wonderful.

“I think it’s going to be a tremendous asset for the city.”

By Patrick Malee
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by: TIDINGS PHOTO: PATRICK MALEE - To provide more river views, the parks department will likely remove invasive species near the water. By law, the path must stay at least 35 feet from the water.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: PATRICK MALEE - Among the attendees at the walk were members of the Parks and Recreation Board and Boy Scout Troop 149.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: PATRICK MALEE - The walk last week covered phase one of the trail, running three-quarters of a mile along the river.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: PATRICK MALEE - The trail will be wide enough for walkers and bicyclists alike.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: PATRICK MALEE - A resident admired the view of the river during the tour.

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