By Ann McCreary
An informal organization called “Friends of the Trail” has been launched to create support for a proposed community trail in Twisp.
About 30 citizens gathered last Wednesday (Nov. 13) at the Methow Valley Inn for dinner and a presentation by Connie and Terry Reckord of MacLeod Reckord, a Seattle firm with extensive trail development experience that has been hired by Twisp to develop a trail plan.
“What I’m trying to create is an organization of community members who can serve as a sounding board for the Twisp Planning Commission,” said Peter Morgan, co-owner of the inn and a planning commission member who is leading Friends of the Trail.
“It’s a cross-section of the community – landowners who’ve donated easements, people with trail experience or with ties to the Twisp community,” Morgan said.
Twisp officials envision a walking and biking trail running along the Twisp and Methow Rivers through town, and have secured some donations of property easements and right-of-ways along the proposed route for the riverfront pathway. The town hired Macleod Reckord last spring to help plan the trail.
Connie and Terry Reckord gave their first report to the Twisp Planning Commission on Thursday. They presented a broad overview of existing transportation in Twisp that examined destinations such as parks, commercial areas and open spaces; “gateways” that provide public access to destinations in town; and the interconnection of streets, sidewalks and pathways.
Trails are an important part of a community’s
overall transportation options and economic vitality, said Terry Reckord.
“We think it’s important to think holistically about what this can do for your community,” Reckord said. “What kind of a town do we want? Americans are trying to find ways to drive less … moving toward a better balance of modes of transportation and getting people out of their cars. This will have an effect on the long-term character of your community and will have an economic effect as well.”
Town planning commissioners agreed that developing a complete picture of transportation in Twisp will help guide planning and funding decisions. “We came into this looking for a trail plan and we realized we actually need that holistic plan,” said Traci Day, a Town Council member who has helped lead the trail project.
Connie Reckord said Twisp has the advantage of being “a very walkable community [with] comfortable, low-volume streets that with a little attention to detail could be even safer than they are.”
The town is also fortunate to have property owners who have donated easements across their property for the trail. “You have some really visionary property owners … who are willing to allow you to build it,” said Connie Reckord.
Town planning commissioners directed
MacLeod Reckord to focus on two priorities as they develop final plans: designing a riverfront trail that extends from the salmon recovery ponds on Twisp River Road to the sports fields at the Twisp Airport, and enhancing transportation in Twisp’s downtown area.
Mayor Soo Ing-Moody said pedestrian and bicycle safety in Twisp’s downtown area will be improved through a newly awarded grant. Ing-Moody said she learned last week that Twisp has received a $167,353 grant from the Regional Transportation Planning Organization to fund construction of sidewalks along Twisp Avenue, at the north end of Glover Street, between Highway 20 and Lincoln Street. The work will be done in 2014.
Ing-Moody said the town eventually hopes to install sidewalks along Lincoln Street to provide a safer route for pedestrians – especially children – all the way to the Twisp Park and the Wagner Memorial Pool.
Morgan said Friends of the Trail will work to raise money to help fund the next phase of trail and transportation planning. His said his goal is to raise $10,000 by the end of the year, and about two-thirds of that amount has been raised. “Following the meeting we had some people come forward and be very generous,” Morgan said.
“Our goal, if in fact his river trail is our highest priority, is to create a detailed enough plan with costs estimates and specifications worked out that we can submit for a major grant application in the spring,” Morgan said.
Morgan said he believes a community trail can encourage overall development of the community.
“We would like to recruit more investors into the town of Twisp – people who want to bring businesses here or buy older housing stock and rehabilitate it – and having a great trail plan would be one of the great things happening in Twisp,” Morgan said.