Island City City Council held a special public session for the last of the three route proposals for the Greenway project on Thursday.
While most of the speakers at the meeting were opposed to the Greenway, Councilor Robb Rea admitted the city is in the corner with this project. If the city were to decline the grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation, that would put the city at risk for not receiving grants in the future.
This was the third special meeting held by the city to ask the public how it should use a $1.1 million grant from the state for Phase II of the Grande Ronde River Greenway Project. The grant, awarded in 2016, is 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 meeting consisted mostly of comments taken from owners of the properties neighboring the pathway who oppose the Greenway because of its proximity to their own properties.
Many of the current councilors were not on the council when the Greenway was initiated.
Julie Bodfish, one of the residents whose property would be affected by the potential pathway, said she understands this was not the current councilors’ decision to begin with. She said no one in her neighborhood had initially supported this project and accused the previous Union County planning director of lying about the support.
“I was threatened and bullied,” she alleged at Thursday’s hearing about giving access to the land. She pleaded with the council to abandon this project.
Many of Bodfish’s neighbors said the same thing — they have never supported the pathway and this was not reflected accurately in the paperwork, which ODOT will have a copy of.
Mary McCracken spoke in support of the Greenway project. She said turning public lands into a trail will benefit many people in the community.
“There’s a need for people to get out in nature and exercise,” McCracken said. “It’s a place where people can walk.”
See more in Friday's edition of The Observer.