Review project details and the route options, then share your thoughts with an online survey by July 15. Or visit the Metro planning team at four upcoming community events to learn more about this project and to share your thoughts.
- Saturday, July 16, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Gresham Farmer’s Market, Northwest Miller Avenue between 2nd and 3rd streets
- Saturday, July 23 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Troutdale Summerfest at Glenn Otto Park
More than 70 people attended a June 29 open house where Metro staff talked with community members about possible routes for a trail that would link the mouth of the Sandy River in Troutdale to the Springwater Trail in Gresham.
It was the first chance for neighbors to get an in-depth look at three ways to close a six-mile trail gap in the so-called 40-Mile Loop – actually a 140-mile trail that encircles the region and connects more than 30 city parks. The Troutdale to Gresham connection is the largest of several gaps in the loop.
Metro is working with the cities of Gresham and Troutdale to develop a master plan that will connect bikers and walkers to neighborhoods, parks and schools along the gap. Metro’s aim is to settle on a preferred route in the fall. The decision would guide future land acquisitions, easement negotiations and grant applications. Construction of the trail is not yet funded and would still be years away.
Robert Spurlock, senior regional planner at Metro and the project manager, told the crowd at the open house that in order to decide where the trail should go, “we need to know what the community wants.”
The three alignment options are:
Alignment 1: The westernmost route uses the existing road network and runs through the most urban, developed parts of Gresham and Troutdale.
Alignment 2: The middle route follows existing roads and passes through some rural areas. It provides more of a natural experience than route 1 but has fewer private property impacts than route 3.
Alignment 3: The easternmost route travels mostly through rural areas and follows Beaver Creek through its canyon and alongside farmland. It offers great views and access to nature but would have the most impact on private property.
At the open house, community members sat at tables and clustered around the maps to discuss the options.
“We’ve been dying for a trail for years,” said DeAnna Hoccom, who lives near Mt. Hood Community College, where the meeting was held. Hoccom said she wants any trail to be a safe and pleasant place for neighborhood children to walk or bike away from high-speed traffic.
“The first route is a straight shot from A to B – good for transportation,” said Brittney Arellano, a Gresham resident. But she preferred the second alignment option for its opportunities to connect to “a web of other things along the way,” such as parks and natural areas. She wasn’t sure, though, if she’d feel safe using the trail alone. “You’d want a group with you.”
Dan and Marilyn Stockham of Troutdale sat at the same table and nodded in agreement. “We don’t ride our bikes along trails around here because of the problems with the homeless,” Marilyn Stockham said. She said several of her neighbors had had frightening encounters with illegal campers.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, which polices Troutdale, and the Gresham Police Department are working with Metro on trail safety. Routes on or near streets are easier to patrol, they said.
Boosting safety and preventing crime will be a focus when designing any future trail, Spurlock said. For instance, trails can be designed so that they don’t create spaces where people can lurk. Installing appropriate lighting,fences and shrubbery can also help. And the trail would also be designed so that cyclists and walkers wouldn’t have to travel a long way without a place to get off.
It will be years before a trail is built, Spurlock pointed out. In the interim, communities are developing resources to better address illegal camping. For instance, Gresham recently hired a homeless services specialist and is working to alleviate homelessness in many ways, including housing veterans, opening new shelters, and seeking funding for affordable housing.
Other community members who attended the open house said they wanted to see a more rural route that included more nature.
At one table, three women from the Mount Hood Chapter of Oregon Equestrian Trails, which works to ensure equestrian access to public lands, felt that the trail should be designed with horse access in mind. They favored the third trail route that follows the length of Beaver Creek.
Linda Parashos of Portland also favored this eastern-most route but noted that “it may not be accessible for much of the population.” She was excited at the thought of getting outdoors more.
But several people who own farms and houses along Beaver Creek were very concerned about the potential impacts a trail would have on their properties and livestock.
Marsh Burns, of Troutdale said that deer and spotted owl could be scared away. He worried about salmon habitat in the creek and wondered whether trail users ”will fish on my lakes.”
All of the feedback that community members provide will help shape the route that’s recommended at the end of the project, Spurlock said.
“We are asking people to tell us what they want, and we are listening,” he said.