Council OKs grant applications for trails

By Sean C. Morgan
Lebanon Local
The Lebanon City Council on March 11 approved two grant applications to help pay for the construction of the Old Mill Trail, a new section of trail planned by Build Lebanon Trails that will run from Mountain River Drive to Gill’s Landing.
The council voted to seek a 2020 Government Large Grant and a 2020 Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant during its regular meeting Wednesday evening.
Dr. Thad and Joanne Nelson funded a $50,000 challenge grant, Sell said. The couple feels so strongly about this project, they have pledged substantial additional funding, and the project currently has $250,000 in pledges.
While the city does not have a complete estimate for the project, Interim City Manager Ron Whitlach said, some preliminary estimates are at $1 million already.
The 4,000-foot Old Mill Trail will be hard-surfaced, lighted and accessible to those with disabilities, said BLT Board President Rodney Sell during a presentation to the City Council.
“This one trail will positively impact the community more than any trail project before it. This one trail will connect over five miles of existing trail and will directly connect five city parks, including River Park, Cheadle Lake, Riverview Park, Porter Park and Gill’s Landing.”
“The reason Build Lebanon Trails can exist is because of close partnerships,” Sell said. “The biggest partnership is with the City of Lebanon, outlining what BLT has done in the past year. We’ve seen many examples of that. The most recent example of that is the three bridges that are out at Cheadle Lake.”
The city covered the cost and installation of the two newest bridges, and a partnership among the city, Nelson and Rick Franklin Corporation put in the first bridge, Sell said, and BLT also has partners outside of town, like Forslund Crane Service, Sell said.
“So what are we trying to do?” Sell said, displaying BLT’s most recent map of Lebanon trails, depicting existing and proposed trails across Lebanon. “We want to get rid of those dotted lines. Our goal is to make all of those solid yellow lines (existing trails) and really create that interconnection.”
To that end, three new pedestrian bridges are complete. Lebanon created a continuous, accessible trail between the southern urban growth boundary and Riverview Park. Russell Drive connected Main Street to Cheadle Lake Park and the North Shore Trail.
The Elite Volunteer Program is in its second year, Sell said, and it’s providing sustainable volunteer support to maintain the trails, pick up litter and talk to people. The volunteers are also assuming leadership roles in the organization.
Way-finding trail signs have been installed on existing trails in collaboration with the Arts Commission, local college students and the city, and BLT installed 11 bike racks and 25 benches around the community as well as planting more than 230 new trees.
Since the organization formed in 2005, more than 25 percent of the planned 50-mile trail system has been developed, Sell said.
The Old Mill Trail is BLT’s top priority this year, Sell said. Also coming up this year, BLT plans to break ground on a three-phased trail development project at Cheadle Lake, including a trail connection between the existing North Shore Trail and the AYSO soccer fields, a boardwalk or bridge connecting the island trails and a wildlife viewing platform on the south shore.
In the second phase of the Commemorative Resting Bench Project, 20 more benches are available for sponsorship, Sell said. Also this year, BLT plans to research trail easements and conduct preliminary surveying for the extension of the Burkhard Creek Trail.
In the next three to five years, BLT intends to connect Dr. Thad Nelson Trail to Had Irvine Park, develop a trail connection from Marks Slough Trail to River Park and continue development of segments of the Burkhart Creek Trail.
“It’s really amazing, and I just want to really thank you guys for doing what you’re doing,” said Councilor Karin Stauder. “My dog thanks you for the Had Irvine one and the Cheadle Lake one because we go out there with her. It’s just amazing, really.”
“I just want to thank you and the whole group,” added Mayor Paul Aziz. “The accessibility is just outstanding on those trails. It really makes it nice. It makes it so that people like me that just want to go for a stroll can do that. We couldn’t do that before.”
“I adore the dedication in your whole group,” said Councilor Rebecca Grizzle. “It’s amazing to think back. In the last 15 years, what a major asset for Lebanon. It makes you proud to be a part of Lebanon.”
Present at the meeting were Aziz and councilors Wayne Rieskamp, Grizzle, Michelle Steinhebel, Jason Bolen, Stauder and Robert Furlow.
In other business, the council:
♦ Reached a consensus to allow the Strawberry Festival Board to use Cheadle Lake free of charge to offer the Star-Spangled Celebration for 2020.
The Strawberry Festival Board decided to take on the celebration after the Lebanon Community Foundation decided to discontinue the event, said Strawberry Board Chairwoman Cindy Kerby.
“We just wanted to do another community event. We feel like we’re the right people to do it.”
The event will be free, but the board will accept donations to help pay for the show and rely on sponsors to cover the cost.
The board heard, “people didn’t like paying to see fireworks,” Kerby said, and this year, they won’t.
She anticipated that, in addition to Lebanon, businesses in Albany, Sweet Home and Corvallis are likely to sponsor the event.
Most of them do not have fireworks on the Fourth of July, she said, and this one will be twice as big as it has been and the largest show in the valley.
The event will run from 4 to 11 p.m., with fireworks beginning at 10 p.m. The celebration will include on-stage entertainment for families.
Kerby told the council that the Strawberry Festival Board pays $4,000 to rent the park for the Strawberry Festival, and noted that the board gave a $100,000 grant to the city last year to continue developing the park.
She requested that the city waive the park rental cost. The council agreed. Aziz said it’s something reasonable that the city can give.
♦ Approved new manhole cover designs. The manhole covers will be installed downtown.
The Arts Commission juried more than 20 submissions and selected five designs representing Lebanon’s wood products industry, area wildlife, railroad history, strawberry heritage and Lebanon freestyle, for themes that do not fit the other categories.
Designs selected were by Skylar Randklev, Corey McEldowney, Kyle Moye, Jenni Grove and Angela Schuler.
The idea was for the city to budget for five covers per year, Whitlach said. The city would keep a couple of the old ones as spares.
♦ Appointed Keith Kutch to the Arts Commission.
♦ Appointed Tom Wells to the Budget Committee.
♦ Recommended approval to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission of a new off-premise liquor license for the Lebanon Liquor Store at its new location, 865 S. Main St. The business has a license for its old location but not for its new location.
♦ Recognized former Planning Commissioner John Brown for his dedication and more than 20 years of service on the Planning Commission “to make Lebanon the town that we are today.”
“He’s a true Lebanite, born and raised in the city,” Aziz said. “Being part of the city for so long, John knows everyone, and it’s said that he treats everyone with the same friendship, honor and integrity. During his time on the commission, he helped make a lot of decisions that helped frame the development of this city, including the contentious Walmart project, siting of the Boys and Girls Club and participating in the comprehensive plan process.”
♦ Annexed a lot off E. Grant Street east of the South Santiam River.
♦ Authorized the city to provide sewer service to 820 W. Oak St. The property’s septic system has failed, and the property is within 300 feet of an existing sewer main, which prohibits Linn County from issuing a repair or replacement permit.
The owners submitted an application for annexation on March 3.