The future of the Grande Ronde River Greenway Project may be coming into sharper focus.

The Greenway Exploration Committee presented Island City’s city council with three options for phase II of the Grande Ronde River Greenway Project on Wednesday.

The options address how Island City should use a $1.1 million grant for phase II of the Greenway Project. The city received the grant from the state in 2016. The grant is to be used for a trail that would run from an area east of Riverside Park to a pond in eastern Island City north of Highway 82.

The Greenway Project has been a point of contention in recent years at some city council meetings. People living near the proposed route fear that having a public path close to their homes will cause problems, but supporters of the trail say the Greenway project would draw in visitors, boosting the local economy.

“There would be long-term financial benefits,” said Michael Jaeger, the facilitator of the Greenway Exploration Committee.

Phase I of the project was completed about six years ago with help from a $841,000 Oregon Department of Transportation grant. Phase I begins at Riverside Park, where the trail connects with a bike-pedestrian bridge that crosses the Grande Ronde River. From that point there is a half-mile asphalt trail running east from the bridge. All three of the phase II options suggested by the Greenway Exploration Committee call for the trail to be extended from there for about 1.25 miles to the pond in Island City.

Jaeger told the city council that the options recommended for consideration are not the last word on the project.

“As you can see, there is a not a perfect solution,” Jaeger said, adding, though, that the consensus of the committee is that the Greenway project should go forward.

“We still want to do this. We think it is a good thing to do,” he said at the city council work session.

The options developed by the Greenway Exploration Committee are identified as A, B and C.

The option A trail would travel east along the Grande Ronde River until it connects to at least three private properties. The trail would cut across at least one private property and might skirt other properties along the river using a boardwalk.

The route, which would cost $1.24 million, would pose few engineering problems and offer many vistas and access points, according to the Greenway Exploratory Committee’s report.

One drawback of option A is that there are bank safety issues on portions of the route because of erosion. This would mean that erosion mitigation where the river has cut deeply into the bank would have to be conducted. Another concern is the number of easements that would have to be secured where the trail runs into private property.

See complete story in Friday's Observer

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