ISLAND CITY — The dates of three public hearings sure to spark passionate discussions about the Grande Ronde River Greenway Project were set Monday night by the Island City City council.

The council set dates for hearings for each of the three options proposed for consideration by the Greenway Exploration Committee. The hearings will be conducted August 7, 21 and 28. Each will start at 7 p.m. at Island City City Hall. At each hearing, information on one option will be presented by the city council and then public input will be taken.

“We just want to hear the public’s opinions on the options,” Island City Mayor Delmer Hanson said.

The options, presented to the council in May, address how the City of Island City should use a $1.1 million grant from the state, awarded in 2016, for phase II of the Grande Ronde River Greenway Project.

Phase I of the project was completed about seven 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 here for about 1-1/4 miles to the pond in Island City.

Hanson said the council decided on separate hearings to prevent confusion.

“We realize that (holding separate hearings) will make the process longer, but we want the public to be clear on all options,” Hanson said.

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. Supporters say the Greenway project would draw in visitors, boost the local economy and improve the quality of life of residents.

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer