Parks, Trees and Trails meets on projects

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
The Parks, Trees and Trails Committee met Oct. 19, to discuss updates and plans of action on several projects, including trails along River Park and Cheadle Lake, maintenance needs and the installation of a flashing beacon crossing on Tennessee Road.
In January, Build Lebanon Trails received $325,000 from the federally funded Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund grant to construct the South Shore Trail along the north border of Cheadle Lake Park. BLT will contribute another $38,000 for the project. Then, in July, the city received $2.6 million from the state general fund for the development of disability-accessible facilities at the park.
According to Engineering Services Director Ron Whitlatch, the original plan was to combine both projects into one operation, but it was later determined that it wouldn’t be a good idea to combine state- and federally funded projects.
As such, he said, city staff will try to begin work on the South Shore Trail next spring, with completion expected in two years.
During the meeting, the committee discussed two options for the trail: one that cuts through the trees and another that circumvents them but would require breaking up the berm at the park’s amphitheater. The committee and city staff agreed the former was preferred.

This image shows a proposed trail at Cheadle Park to cut through the trees as part of the South Shore Trail.

Co-chair Rod Sells, who also serves as the BLT board’s president, said the nonprofit’s volunteers will offer their support to help build the trail.
He also brought several topics of conversation to the table concerning BLT’s involvement with the city’s trails:
♦ BLT wanted to help the city with mowing around them and was looking into the purchase of a mower, but city staff determined that it might not be feasible to allow volunteers to work the property due to liability concerns. BLT also noticed that the North Shore Trail needed maintenance, including removal of its blackberry bushes.
Public Works Director Jason Williams said there simply wasn’t enough staff currently to maintain the mowing.
“We have 385 acres of developed turf that we mow and maintain,” he said, “and you add all of the double miles of trail right-of-ways to mow and maintain.”
Sell told Whitlatch and Williams that BLT wanted to help and discussed the possibility of financially supporting a seasonal city worker for turf maintenance.
“The city would be open arms for that,” Williams said.
As such, BLT requested that the committee make a recommendation to the Lebanon City Council for a budget line item dedicated to that purpose and provide the cost estimate to the board. Williams expressed concern about the possibility that the city worked on that line item and then a year comes along when BLT can’t fund it.
“I’d want to have some pretty good assurances moving all that work forward for all the people that would have to do that, that the funding was going to be there,” Williams said.
It was decided that city staff would provide a seasonal-worker cost estimate to BLT, which would explore fund-maintenance options.

A section on the North Shore Trail at Cheadle Lake is severely eroded. Photo by Sarah Brown

♦ Sell said that BLT researched available trail-repair grants to help the city with its North Shore Trail project and found a couple of options. He asked city staff to provide a rough estimate of what the cost would be to repair the trail, which is showing cracks and signs of falling into the Albany-Santiam Canal. In the meantime, Sell said, volunteers hoped to help seal cracking surfaces.
Whitlatch estimated that it could be a multiyear and multimillion-dollar project requiring several agencies to move the trail onto the lake. He thought a design grant could help start the process.
“That’s a fairly major undertaking to redo that trail and get it right,” he said.
♦ Sell reported that BLT has helped clean up 27 instances of graffiti on the trails since April 2022 and created five crews of a quick-response team.
“You all know how bad the graffiti is and how much work it is to make it clean again,” he said. “Our goal is to not give the taggers the satisfaction of being able to view their taggings.”
♦ Sell asked the committee to consider recommending to the city council an accommodation for a trail connection from Porter Park to Walker Road via Primrose and Dewey streets as the city worked on area projects.
Whitlatch said the city had recently submitted a draft of options to the Oregon Department of Transportation concerning the realignment of the traffic signal at Dewey and Walker. Options included sidewalks and bike lanes in that section. However, he expressed concern about adding a trail where Primrose had little room for a multi-use path.
“I like the idea,” he said, “but just know that as this develops, there will be sidewalks for all these connections.”
Whitlatch explained in an email that the city, Linn County and ODOT had scoped a project to realign the Dewey/Walker and Hwy. 20 intersection, with ODOT taking the lead. If funding is secured, the project may begin in 2024 or 2025.

Artwork on a dock at Cheadle Lake left by a vandal leaves much for volunteers to clean up. Provided photo

♦ A discussion covered running a trail across Albany-owned property from Had Irvine Park to North Williams Street and building a bridge across the canal. The city of Albany returned a letter with its requirements, some of which proved difficult to accept. The committee decided to table the discussion until the next meeting.
♦ Sell reported that a concrete pad for a bicycle repair station at Gill’s Landing has been poured, and also informed the committee about complaints regarding the need for a trash receptacle at the Cheadle Lake boat ramp. Williams said he would look at options for installing such a receptacle.
In other PTT business, Williams asked for BLT’s partnership on an improvement project off Tennessee Road at Beaton Lane as the city installs a rapid flashing beacon to protect an “extremely dangerous” crossing.
“We’ve made it a big priority to make this improvement,” he said.
The city asked for BLT’s assistance with work and funding to complete the project, which will include a dedicated trail along Beaton Lane. Whitlatch said the lowest quote was $104,000, but the city could budget only $50,000.
Sell said he would take the request to the BLT board.
The committee also approved a motion to recommend to the city council the submission of an application for the Recreational Trails Program grant to fund a trail along the west side of River Park. Whitlatch said a 30% match was available.
“Staff feels the trail will be a really nice addition to the park,” Williams said. “We’ve got a grant available and property to do something with, and we need to provide some safety and security in that area of the park, so this would be a great way to do that.”