Tumwater revives plan for trail network, riles residents



What's next
Area residents can weigh in on the Tumwater Trails Plan at a meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Tumwater Fire Department, 311 Israel Road.

On the Web

City of Tumwater: www.ci.tumwater.wa.us


TUMWATER -- The city is breathing new life into a 10-year trails plan -- a move that worries those who oppose pathways across their properties.

A $25,000 federal grant the city received in the spring prompted officials to re-examine the trails plan. The grant allowed the city to pay for planning work.

Originally crafted in 1993, the city's plan outlines a trail network that would connect Tumwater to other pathways in Olympia and across Thurston County. However, it does not reflect changes throughout Tumwater during the past decade, city officials said Tuesday.

"It's very vague and just an overall outline of where we think trails should go," said Chuck Denney, Tumwater parks and recreation director. "What we're doing now is putting some realism into the trails plan."

Denney gave the Tumwater City Council an update on the plan Tuesday. A meeting to gather public input on the issue is scheduled for Thursday.

Few project details are available, but Denney said the trail network would cost at least $1 million and would take at least 20 years to complete. The network could range from 10 to 30 miles.

This summer, about 200 property owners received notices that project planners want access to their land to complete survey work. The notices caused anxiety among property owners who don't want trails running through their yards.

Among those concerned by the notice is Tumwater resident Stephen Bremer, who has lived at his Z Street home for 10 years.

"I'm not interested in having, none of us are, any public access where we now have total privacy," he said to the council Tuesday. "It's a question of security, and it's a question of privacy."

Bremer also said he fears the project would decrease the value of his home.

Project planners said several surveys of Tumwater residents conducted during the past 15 years have shown ongoing demand for a trails network.

"Consistently, Tumwater residents have been saying, 'We want more trails,' " said Chris Hawkins, a transportation program coordinator with Climate Solutions, a nonprofit consultant on the project.

Mayor Pro Tem Pete Kmet said he is excited about the trails plan project, but also has heard from residents who share Bremer's apprehension.

"I can certainly empathize with homeowners who have concerns," he said. "I hope folks will also look at the assets, too, that this could bring to their properties."

Despite some residents' concerns, building a network of trails will become increasingly difficult as Tumwater becomes more developed, Denney said.

"Right now, it's getting somewhat challenging to create a trails plan through the development that has occurred," he said. "Certainly, 10 or 20 years from now, it will be nearly impossible. We want to have something in place."


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