My Voice

About the author

Anita Metlen has worked, raised two children, is a business owner and volunteered for several clubs and organizations in Union County over the past 42 years.

My Voice columns reflect the views of the author only. My Voice columns should be 500-700 words or as space allows. Submissions should include a portrait-type photograph of the author. Authors also should include their full name, age, occupation and relevant organizational memberships. We edit submissions for brevity, grammar, taste and legal reasons. We do not fact check. We reject those published elsewhere. Send columns to La Grande Observer, 1406 5th St., La Grande, Ore., 97850, fax them to 541-963-7804 or email them to .

The proposed Grande Ronde River Greenway is a collaborative community project that involves members and organizations from La Grande, Union County and Island City. The funding comes from allotted state funds awarded through a competitive process. Island City was fortunate after several attempts to be awarded a grant. If not used for this project, the money will revert to the state funding pool and be used in a different community within
Oregon. Our community is just as worthy of these state funds as any other community in Oregon. We might as well benefit with the good fortune of receiving the grant.

I have used bike/pedestrian trails in several states and communities in Oregon. An established trail such as this is an asset. A trail contributes to the health and well-being of those who live locally and is a contributing factor to those who choose to visit or relocate. I have observed retired groups and individuals, family groups with children, grandparents with young grandchildren, dog walkers, commuters and individuals who live near the trail who regularly walk, run, stop to enjoy nature or ride bicycles use similar community trails. Hard-core cyclists will not be the primary users of the trail. Many communities have successfully used trail development to clean up and reclaim areas that were dangerous or unsightly. They made lemonade out of lemons.

Trails such as the proposed Grande Ronde River Greenway attract home buyers. My friend relocated to a city where she could ride her bike to city services or ride for exercise. My son recently purchased a house next to a bike/ped path so that he and his children had the opportunity to walk or ride their bikes to school, to work or for recreation. His property is located adjacent to the trail. There is a boundary fence with vegetation for privacy and beauty that includes an access gate that can be locked or not. Both of these examples chose to locate near a path because of the benefits. The trail was the deciding factor in each purchase decision.

On Sept. 24, the Island City City Council will meet again to make a decision about the greenway. The council needs to know how or if residents in the area support this project.

The proposed routes for Phase II have easement, cost and construction issues. Each of the routes have supporters and non-supporters. I propose building only on currently publicly owned rights-of-way, which would include the right-of-way beyond the proposed park that ends at Highway 82. The plan states the trail will be constructed wide enough for access by maintenance crews, public safety and health organizations. Service vehicle access may eliminate the need to create any alternate access points.

In addition, I would like to propose a Phase III for the development of non-publicly owned trail portions at a later date. Phase III would allow more time for planning and opportunities for additional funding for items such as bridges and/or additional riverbank stabilization.

In conclusion, I support the proposed greenway but believe developing only publicly owned land is the best route at this time with a plan for a Phase III for the remaining unfinished development. The grant funds will be spent in this state — so let’s spend the money in our community.