Support of Touchet Valley Trail's economic benefits
April 7, 2022
To the Editor,
I am writing to express my support for the building of the trail. I have reviewed the plans and am encouraged by what the engineers and designers have envisioned – and the accommodations that have been made to address the concerns of community members that live along the proposed trail. Dedicated bike and hike trails are so much safer for those of us that at times choose alternative means of transportation. The trail will make it much safer for young and old alike to get about parts of town and the valley.
The fact that the building of the trail will not result in an increase in my taxes is also a big plus. It is my understanding that this type of funding has been federally allocated for alternative transportation in the federal budgets since 1977. Why shouldn’t it be used to enhance the Waitsburg/Dayton area? Maintenance costs appear to be small in relation to project outlay. It was pointed out at the last meeting I attended that by the time the trail would be constructed, the Port would be free of much of its debt service and able to budget an estimated $10,000 /yr. for maintenance costs with no problem. There are also groups that have expressed interest in volunteer trail maintenance
Funding is available this year that would, if granted, fund ½ of the trail without costing the Port additional dollars as one grant could act as the match for the matching requirements of the other grant. Monies for completion of the second half would be available in two years. Columbia County does not have any public parks (there is at least one city park) so it is time that such a facility was developed, and this would count towards that goal.
I understand that the trail as currently proposed would build approximately one-half mile of new train tracks when the rail is relocated. It is also my understanding that some Port Commissioners want to rebuild the railroad as it exists now. This would be a great start to that and, if that project is undertaken, it would mean that fewer dollars would have to be found to do that. It’s a good start and approximately 1/20th of that project would get completed. This could also show serious intent to other agencies that the Port reaches out to for funding for that project.
Having reviewed the document labeled ‘Expressed Concerns and Questions from Landowners and the Public Regarding the Proposed Touchet Valley Trail’ that the Port has posted on the Trails’ webpage it appears that concerns have been addressed in the design/build. Most of these issues have been dealt with on the other major Washington trails – the Bill Chipman to Palouse Trail, The Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail – they are not unique. Initially, those trails too had strong opposition but the communities have since discovered what an asset they are.
The possible economic benefits to the Waitsburg and Dayton communities are encouraging and within the mission of the Port. It is disheartening to see all of the vacant storefronts in Dayton. This project could help facilitate small business development at both ends and make Dayton and Waitsburg more of a day or week-end destination.
The Port Commissioners swore in the oath of office that they took when they became commissioners to be impartial, and the new ones promised when they ran for election that they supported economic development. Therefore, voting for the Touchet Valley Trail and the potential economic benefits it would bring, fulfills the vow and obligation they have undertaken for the entire community. The trail should not be politicized. And the building of the trail is an example of how government should serve the people.