FERRY COUNTY RAIL TRAIL PARTNERS UPDATE

The Ferry County Rail Trail Partners held the First Annual Membership Meeting on Sunday, March 30, 2008 at the Old Fire Hall in Republic. Refreshments were served and those attending were introduced to the present Board of Directors.  The Secretarial Report consisted of information on the corporation’s history and dates of pertinent document filings.  The Financial Report outlined the income and expenses to date, as well as the bank balance.  Information was then presented regarding the status of the rail banking and other related issues.  

There were also lively discussions regarding the Golden Tiger Trail, procedures on how to get an item before the voters, what are the opinions of the landowners adjacent to the proposed non-motorized trail, and what are the opinions of Ferry County residents at large. Discussion was also held regarding motorized vs. non-motorized.   While agreeing to hear all sides, the Rail Trail Partners reiterated their intent in the Mission Statement, which states in part, “to preserve the rail corridor for the long-term economic benefit of Ferry County, and to create a non-motorized trail”.  Comments both complementary and critical were received, and appreciated, by the Board.   Minutes of this meeting, as with all meetings, are filed in our Corporate Record Book and are available for review in accordance with our Bylaws

The Ferry County Rail Trail Partners encourage anyone in support of a 29 mile, safe, quiet, non-motorized rail trail to get involved. Please educate yourselves and others about the many benefits of non-motorized trails and help us make it a reality in Ferry County.  Find out more at www.ferrycountyrailtrail.com.  


Two new items!

1) On April 18th the Surface Transportation Board (STB) granted an extension of the contract-negotiation period to rail bank the line as a public use trail. The new deadline is October 29th 2008. --- The FCRTP hope this is the last extension and we have a trail soon!

2) The article below is from the Omak Chronicle online. Good news for the Curlew students. Now the administration, faculty, parents and students can design a more comprehensive long term Safe Route to School Plan. The Ferry County Rail Trail Partners hope that future plans will include the rail corridor, which is adjacent to school property as it could encourage kids to walk/bike to school - safe from the many hazards of the road; in addition to potentially being part of the schools track athletic programs.


Curlew board passes on trail grant
By Brenda Starkey
Chronicle correspondent

 Curlew School Board members voted April 24 not to support a $300,000 grant application proposed by Ferry County commissioners to improve the present trail between the Curlew School and downtown Curlew.
     They will instead take a year to study the issue further, several board members said.
     "I'm not going to try and force the issue," county commissioner and school board member Brad Miller said after the meeting.
     Curlew School District has to do the education and enforcement plan for the grant and it isn't ready, according to Miller, who abstained from the school board vote.
     The county had come up with a grant application plan to improve the existing trail, which originally was developed with grant funds through the county. Officials were looking for the school to provide a plan for education and enforcement issues for the improved path.
     Notice for the school board was pretty short, according to board member Jan Stephens, who said that was one of the things affecting the board's decision.
     The  board was trying to determine what is best for the school, according to  district superintendent Steve McCullough, who said he recommended the proposed  safe routes to school grant application not be studied  further.
     The school looks for grants that are  a good fit, he said, adding that he wasn’t sure the proposed grant was the  best fit.
     “We’d like to look at every aspect  of the two-mile safe route to school radius and develop the best, most  comprehensive package plan available,” McCullough  said.
     County officials had gathered  information to improve the present pathway, which goes north from the school  parking lot past the old school, crosses Boulder/Deer Creek Road and then  proceeds into Curlew.
     The county’s proposed  plan would have included lighting along the current route, a  pedestrian-activated flashing crosswalk sign where the route crosses  Boulder/Deer Creek Road, a radar feedback sign that will remind drivers of  their speed and the widening of Boulder/Deer Creek Road shoulder north of that  crosswalk to provide more safe space for pedestrian traffic, the county grant  administrator told county commissioners April  21.
     Critics said the road widening would  encroach on an old pioneer cemetery located alongside Boulder/Deer Creek Road,  but Miller said it would not be affected.
     One  alternate plan being discussed would include the proposed rail trail on the  rail bed being abandoned by Omnitrax Inc. The county has not yet reached an  agreement with the railroad; the present deadline for negotiations is in  November.
     Ferry County Rail Trail Partners  urged those who attended a recent Curlew School Community Association to  support the proposed rail trail as a safe route to  school.
     The rail trail partners group wants a  non-motorized trail.
     County commissioners  have not yet settled on a non-motorized trail, a multi-use trail or other use  for the rail bed, which stretches some 29 miles between Republic and Danville  through Curlew.
     The Safe Routes to School  Program specifies a non-motorized  trail.
     There are differing opinions about who  is attempting to use the program to further their own objectives, the rail  trail partners or motorized recreation  enthusiasts.
     Those in favor of improving the  existing trail say it is a piece of county infrastructure in dire need of a  rehab to make it safer and to move school children farther from  traffic.
     Those opposed say the county  proposal may have been a move by county officials to designate the present  trail as the safe route to school, leaving the possibility open to designating  the proposed rail trail for multiple  use.
     Those in favor of including the rail  corridor in the school trail say that route is farther away from traffic and  therefore easily a much safer  alternative.
     Miller, who has a background in  law enforcement, says one piece of that route is at a lower elevation than the  road and pretty much out of sight of anyone not on the rail bed. He said he  believes that could pose dangers for  children.
     There isn’t any lighting on the  rail bed at this time, and in the winter students commute to and from school  in darkness, he said.
     Rail trail enthusiasts  say existing rail trails are very safe and that putting school children on a  trail that runs along county roads poses bigger  dangers.
     There is a lot of politics  surrounding this issue, McCullough said.
     A  committee is being formed to look into the two-mile radius where Safe Routes  to School funds could be used, he said.
     The  right solution would look at what is best for the school, and not consider the  politics, he said.
     A high school student has  volunteered to serve on the committee and make it his senior project,  McCullough said.
     He says he believes good and  unique things can emerge from the  controversy.
     Meanwhile, Ferry County is  moving forward with a trail plan for Inchelium school  students.
     That grant application is expected  to be submitted in the next week.
 
   
 
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