|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
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.