Letters to the Editor 7/29/2015

To the Editor:

The debate regarding the Black Butte Trail has evolved. With the strong supportive statements forthcoming from individuals, planners, organizations and businesses for the trail, the effort of opponents has shifted from trying to stop the construction of the trail to moving the trail to the north side of Highway 20.

North of the highway, of course, is unsafe because crossings of the highway would be required, and trail usage could drop 50 percent or more compared to an alignment south of the highway.

Families with children and disabled individuals may feel that they would have to use a car to safely cross the highway to access the trail. That defeats the purpose of freeing our residents from their automobiles and offering alternative modes of transportation. With such a potential decline in trail users, it is doubtful the northern alignment could qualify for funding.

Some residents have expressed concerns regarding privacy and safety once the trail is built. As a result the proposed south trail alignment is at least 371 feet away from residential property near Tollgate. Paved trail users engage in "quiet sports," and at that distance it would be very difficult for any residents to be aware of trail users as they pass by.

Some trail objectors appear to lump paved trail users in with those who illegally use ATVs and other motorized vehicles on rogue trails. Most "quiet sport" trail users will find such an association very unfair. Where the paved trail alignment comes closest to Tollgate homes there is a rogue trail illegally used by ATVs only 205 feet away. Once the new paved trail is built, users will not take kindly to such nearby illegal motorized trail use in the forest. The paved trail will be protected by bollards at road intersections to help keep out unwanted motor vehicles.

Homeowners and paved trail users need to work together to reduce illegal motor vehicle use in our forests.

Bjarne Holm