Open houses to look at county trails plan

Island County Public Works will hold open houses 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 27, Monday, Oct. 30 and Wednesday, Nov. 1 to gather public input on the non-motorized trails plan update.

The Oct. 27 and Nov. 1 open houses are at the Coupeville and Oak Harbor libraries, respectively. The Oct. 30 event is at Freeland Library.

The county is seeking input from runners, cyclists, paddlers or “anyone else who explores Island County with their hands and feet,” according to event flier.

The projects were identified through previous public open houses, previous trail plans, collaboration with trail providers and a technical review from county staff and a consultant, said Connie Bowers, assistant county engineer.

The department wants to learn which projects are most important to the public.

The potential shoreline public access points stood out to commissioners Jill Johnson and Helen Price Johnson.

“It was exciting to see that there are so many places that could be considered,”

Price Johnson said, adding she believes increasing awareness about where there is already public shoreline is an important step.

Price Johnson said she has always felt strongly about increasing shoreline access.

“Island County is made up of two beautiful islands, and the people that live here love to go to the beach,” she said.

Johnson also showed interest in proposed trail improvements to dike trails around Deer Lagoon in Langley because of their location along the water.

“I would move that high on my priority list,” she said.

Johnson said she has reservations about a proposed trail system, with pieces along Navy’s Langley Road and another part of it along Ault Field Road.

Johnson said she’d “need more convincing” on that project because the area is in an accident potential zone, which is an area an aircraft mishap is most likely to occur.

Overall, Johnson supports shoulder widening projects the most rather than separated trails.

Johnson said the shoulder trails are easier to maintain and are more cost effective to put in.

Displays at the open houses will include comparisons of paved shoulder projects with separated paths.

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