By Don Nelson
The Winthrop Town Council has endorsed the re-establishment of a non-motorized, multi-use trail extending west from Mack Lloyd Park to a point west of Rader Road, as proposed by the River Run Inn.
Leia Hansen, representing the River Run Inn, sought the council’s agreement to allow the path to cross town property at a council meeting last week.
In a memo to the council, Hansen said the purpose of the trail is to promote free public access to the town from the Rader Road area, and provide a safer experience for pedestrians and bicyclists who may now be using the narrow shoulders of Highway 20.
The path could also be used in the winter by fat bikers, snowshoers and skiers, Hansen said. The River Run Inn will maintain and groom the path, Hansen said. She said private property owners who would be affected have been contacted and have granted access.
Hansen said that a footpath linking Rader Road to Winthrop, which had been maintained by the River Run Inn for many years, fell into disrepair after a new home was built on the route. She said a re-established path would be routed around the home, and the existing trail would be cleaned up.
Hansen asked the council’s concurrence in connecting the trail to Lloyd Park through town property. The trail would go behind the Yakama Fisheries office and the town tennis courts.
“It would be a nice addition for Winthrop and its visitors,” Hansen told the council. She said the trail would include some signage to help users.
Council member Rick Northcott asked about the viability of long-term agreements with private owners, and how that might affect the trail in the future. Northcott and other council members also had questions about liability for the portion of the trail on town property.
Town Planner Rocklynn Culp said the town’s liability coverage would apply. As for the private portion of the trail, “if it was a town project, it would be more complicated and formalized.” Long-term easements would need to be in place, she said. But beyond the town’s portion of the trail, she said, it’s up to the trail’s supporters to reach and maintain agreements with private property owners.
“It’s consistent with our designated use, but once it goes out of the park it’s not our facility,” Culp said. She added that she doesn’t see the trail posing potential risks for the town.
Julie Muyllaert, co-owner of Methow Cycle & Sport, said the informal trail “is known and accepted in the neighborhood” and has been used for many years. “We hear a lot about people wanting to be able to walk in the area … it’s something people would like to be able to do,” she said.
Shiah Lintz, representing the River Run Inn along with Hansen, said it’s possible that the trail could be extended farther west, perhaps eventually linking up with the Big Valley Trail.