Winthrop continues to make progress on its accelerated efforts to build new momentum for the downtown RiverWalk project.
At last week’s Town Council meeting, Mayor Sally Ranzau, and council members Bill McAdow and Ben Nelson, recounted the discussion at a recent informal meeting they had with property owners who would be affected by the project.
RiverWalk is the designation for a walking trail that would follow the banks of the Chewuch and Methow Rivers in Winthrop, from the pedestrian bridge to North Village down to the Spring Creek bridge, including an underpass beneath the Chewuch River bridge. Much of it would be on the back side of commercial buildings that front on Riverside Avenue.
An ongoing issue has been dealing with concerns raised by the owners of Riverside Avenue property whose parcels would be crossed by the path. Those concerns range from whether the backs of their buildings would have to meet the town’s Westernization requirements, to loss of parking to ongoing maintenance to questioning the need.
To move the project forward with property owners’ full knowledge and participation, the town has developed a “letter of intent for RiverWalk easement.” The town is working in concert with Methow Trails to obtain easements for the trail. By agreeing to terms of the letter, property owners will allow the town to have access for surveying and planning the trail’s route.
Ranzau reported last week that 14 of 22 affected property owners have signed letters of intent. “I was very encouraged by the [recent] meeting,” she said.
McAdow called the meeting “a good discussion,” and said the biggest concern raised was the potential loss of parking spaces behind the River Avenue buildings. Some preliminary staging would help owners figure out where the trail is likely to cross their properties, he said.
“Everyone was willing to address the problem and look for a solution,” Nelson said.
McAdow asked if the project could proceed without all 22 property owners on board.
“That is not my intent,” Ranzau said. The mayor said she is aware of one holdout but the town will continue to work on having all owners sign a letter of intent. She said the deadline for singing a letter of intent may be extended to accommodate that effort.