Finding the long lost ODT mile

Who knew a stretch of trail could be so controversial, but it’s been years and a pathway linking the Olympic Discovery Trail through Sequim has yet to be built, let alone agreed upon. If the city’s parks board has its say, though, the issue soon might come to an end.

At the request of Mayor Laura Dubois, the board created a subcommittee to study a number of options for the “missing mile” and make a recommendation. Chairing the committee was Liisa Fagerlund.

The short stretch of trail would connect the city’s Water Reuse Demonstration Park with the corner of Hendrickson Road and Sequim Avenue.

Currently the “de facto” route is Fir Street and maps of the trail show it as such but there’s no paved trail on Fir Street.

The trail would have be at least 10 feet wide to give walkers and cyclists room to pass one another.

Earlier this year, the matter of the connector was rehashed. According to former Public Works director Jim Bay, placing the connector along Fir Street was not only the fastest, most direct route but it also was the most cost effective. A number of residents living on Fir Street objected to the option, saying it would invade their privacy and diminish the beauty and value of their homes.

The parks subcommittee investigated four possible routes. The first would cross Sequim Avenue at Hendrickson Road and continue straight to the North Rhodefer Road extension, while the second option would go across Hendrickson Road, then south on Brown Road to Fir Street. The problem with both options is there’s no road connecting Hendrickson and Rhodefer roads or Brown Road. The third proposed route is the familiar Fir Street route. The third would head south on Sequim Avenue from Hendrickson Road, go east on Fir Street for one block, south along Sunnyside Avenue to Spruce Street and into the park.

The subcommittee took into account factors including cost, the impact to properties bordering the trail, the directness, aesthetics, the impact on utilities and safety.

One of the biggest factors, however, proved to be how much privately-owned land each route would border and how many easements would be needed. The first of the two Hendrickson trails, for example, would border 4,763 feet of private land and only 974 feet of public land. It would require 3.40 acres of easements and would border 12 privately owned parcels.

“That’s the number of people you have to deal with,” Chuck Preble said. Preble is president of Peninsula Trails Coalition and a subcommittee member.

The Spruce Street route borders only 410 feet of privately-owned land, four privately owned parcels and only .008 acres of easements.

Considering the cost of easements, land acquisition, construction, planning and engineering, the subcommittee estimated costs. According to the subcommittee, contrary to Bay’s assessment, Spruce Street came out as the most cost-effective choice at $345,000. The proposed Fir Street connection, the committee estimated, would cost $430,000.

“For most of the categories, (Spruce Street) came out best,” Fagerlund said.

Preble also pointed out that Fir Street already has a sidewalk but Spruce Street does not.

“There seems like a real benefit here because on Spruce Street they need a sidewalk,” Preble said. “When you look at the details, Spruce is a little easier than Fir.”

The parks board voted unanimously to accept the recommendation. The recommendation was presented to the city council during a June 16 study session. The council plans to vote whether to approve the recommendation in July.

“We just need to get over the pain and choose a route already,” Dubois said.

“We just need to get over the pain and choose a route already.”

— Sequim Mayor Laura Dubois

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