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Council searches for trail’s ‘missing link’

Councilman Paul McHugh calls it “the missing link,” a proposed route that would connect one end of the Olympic Discovery Trail with the other and allow hikers and bikers trail passage through the city of Sequim.

“The missing link has been an issue since even before I was a councilman,” McHugh said.

And it remains an issue if only because no one on the council seems to agree on the route’s location. There are three proposals on the table, each meant to connect Carrie Blake Park with North Sequim Avenue.

The first is Fir Street. According to Public Works director Jim Bay, Fir Street is the shortest, most direct route, making it the most cost efficient. The proposal was knocked off the table in 2007 after Fir Street property owners complained.

“Primarily it was, ‘I just don’t want it going by my house,’” Bay said of the complaints. One such property owner is Ruth Marcus.

“As for the beauty of my home, it would be greatly diminished,” Marcus said after Bay revealed that the trail would replace Marcus’ sidewalk with an asphalt pathway 8-10 feet wide. “I’d like to see some sort of creative solution.” Marcus suggested Fir and neighboring Spruce Street be made into one-way lanes.

The second option is to have the route run along Spruce Street. Not as cost effective as Fir, running the trail along Spruce would require the removal of up to 19 parking spots.

The third and final option is the Zwicker Trail. The most expensive, it’s also the longest, requires the most rehab, including widening of Haller Bridge and the already existing trail.

“No one’s going to use it,” Councilman Ken Hays said. “Let’s not waste money on the Zwicker Trail.”

Hays said he believed Fir Street was the best option because people — including himself — already use it as a route.

McHugh and Hays agreed that property owners’ fears that a trail alongside their homes would lead to possible crime or decreased property values were unfounded. Each said the trail would prove

an asset to homeowners, increasing property values and improving neighborhoods as a whole. Bay recommended the council move forward with Fir Street.

In 2007, Councilman Walt Schubert — who was at that time mayor — formed a blue ribbon task force to study possible acquisitions and funding sources for parks and open spaces. The task force recommended that the trail utilize Spruce Street, but according to McHugh the recommendation was more or less politically minded. According to McHugh, the task force never made the recommendation because they knew the council would never approve it. Schubert admitted that Fir Street is the best option but he would never vote for it because he’d made a promise to Fir Street property owners.

“You were elected to listen to the people,” Schubert said.

Although no action was taken, the council directed staff to contact every member of the now disbanded blue ribbon task force to enquire if they recommended the Spruce Street connector because of political pressure.

“Perhaps the committee could be resurrected for this one item,” Mayor Laura Dubois said.

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