New ordinance requiring porous trails affects Burke-Gilman plans

By Susan Gilmore
Seattle Times staff reporter

May 29, 2004

Any expansion of the Burke-Gilman bicycle trail in Lake Forest Park will have to be made with porous materials that let water pass through.

On a narrow, 4-3 vote, the Lake Forest Park City Council on Thursday night passed an ordinance that removed the exemption for the popular bicycle trail from city laws that public and private trails can't be made of impervious material.

It's not immediately clear what that means for King County's plans to upgrade the trail, but it could mean any expansion of the pathway could not be made of concrete, asphalt or even crushed gravel.

The issue of what materials would be allowed was sent back to city staff to investigate.

A second issue before the council that would subject the trail to a conditional-use permit was postponed until the council's June 10 meeting. That would require that different kinds of trail users, such as bicyclists and pedestrians, be separated on the trail and that the trail could cross driveways only where there was no "practicable" alternative.

Plans for upgrading a two-mile section of the Burke-Gilman Trail between Northeast 145th Street to Logboom Park in Kenmore have caused resentment among some Lake Forest Park residents who say bikers go too fast on the trail and that the county hasn't taken good care of the trail.

The council adopted the porous-materials ordinance despite a request from Mayor Dave Hutchinson that the issue be set aside while the city negotiated with King County over trail improvements.

Tom Eksten, King County's trails coordinator, said it's clear that the Lake Forest Park ordinance will not allow the county to enlarge the "footprint" of the trail.

"Now, no matter how we improve it, we'll be left with a substandard trail," said Eksten. "We're not certain what we'll be able to do."



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