Withdrawn right-of-way leaves Twisp looking for alternatives
By Ann McCreary
Plans for the Twisp Community Trail are being reassessed after a property owner unexpectedly withdrew a donated a right-of-way for a section of the trail along the east side of the Methow River.
The Lloyd family had previously told town officials they would donate a right-of-way that would allow the trail to be built on family-owned property along the east side of the Methow River north of Highway 20.
However, the family recently rescinded that offer, which not only means that section of trail won’t be built, but also leaves the town short of a financial match required for a $199,504 state grant received this year to fund the trail development.
The value of the donated property was a portion of the town’s matching funds in the grant application to the state Recreation and Conservation Organization (RCO), said Mayor Soo Ing-Moody.
“We are now looking to reduce the project costs,” Ing-Moody told council members last week. “I feel confident we can retain [the grant] but we need to make up for the match,” she said. The town is about $30,000-$40,000 short of the required match, she said.
“It was a family decision to opt out,” said Bob Lloyd, a Twisp Council member, in response to questions from fellow council member Dwight Filer. “Security and privacy became a bigger issue the more we looked at it.”
“Your family seemed committed right up to the last minute. If those concerns existed earlier, why didn’t you tell the council … or Soo [Ing-Moody] so we could have mitigated it? Is there any way the town could work with you to mitigate those concerns?” Filer asked.
“It’s probably a done deal,” Lloyd responded.
Ing-Moody told the council that the Lloyd family has indicated it might consider an in-kind donation of equipment and/or labor to offset the loss of the right-of-way and matching funds. The family operates Lloyd Logging Inc., an excavating and construction business based in Twisp.
Lloyd said he expected to have an answer about a potential in-kind donation by the next council meeting.
Vacated by town
Filer, who has participated in planning a community trail for many years, said negotiations with the Lloyd family on the right-of-way along the river have been underway for about three years.
“They continued to sign papers and documents leading us to believe the commitment was there … and the town continued to put money and staff time into it,” Filer said this week.
Filer said the section of trail proposed for the Lloyd property would have followed the roadbed of the former Wagner Street, which the town vacated in the early 1990s at the request of the Lloyd family, which proposed to develop adjacent land into an industrial park.
“I remember being in the room when the town vacated that street,” Filer said.
The council chamber was crowded with citizens “begging the town council not to vacate,” he said.
“The citizens asked to get something in compensation … because it was riverfront. The council’s reasoning at the time was they really wanted to see that property developed. They saw it as a benefit to the town,” Filer said.
“We gave them a strip [of property] along the pristine Methow River. It still sticks in my craw to this day,” Filer said.
The industrial park was not developed and Bob Lloyd said this week that there are “not any definite plans now” for future development of the property. He said the family has “not reached a decision yet” on possible in-kind donations of equipment or labor for the trail project.
Long planning process
The concept for the non-motorized community trail has evolved over several years. The project has been spearheaded in the past few years by Traci Day, who recently resigned from the council, although she had declared her candidacy for another term. Day said she resigned because she had become too busy to commit the time needed for her council responsibilities.
As currently proposed, the trail would begin at the Twisp Park and run south along the Methow River on donated easements and rights-of-way. It would continue on town sidewalks and streets to the bridge over the Methow River. Plans had called for it to cross the bridge and head north for about one-third of a mile along the river on the Lloyd property, but the trail will now end at the bridge.
The town was relying on the funding match from the value of the donated Lloyd property to help with the costs of constructing the trail from the park and along the west side of the river, Ing-Moody said. To complicate matters, appraisals on other properties donated for the trail came in lower than anticipated.
The result is a shortfall of about $30,000-$40,000 in the town’s required match, which also includes materials and staff time.
The town has hired Connie Reckord, a Seattle-based urban designer, to design the trail.
“Connie Reckord is trying to see where there would be potential changes that could help us with that match deficit for the segments we know we would be building,” Ing-Moody said.
“We’re working with the RCO to come up with a solution about how we can resolve this,” Ing-Moody added. “I feel very confident that we will be building the trail … it just takes a little bit of working with the agency.”