Centennial Trail visitors center opens Saturday

ARLINGTON — The estimated 300,000 people who pass through downtown Arlington on the Centennial Trail each year now have use of a restroom and visitor information center.

The grand opening of the $160,000 center, which is fashioned after an old railroad depot, is set for noon Saturday in Legion Park, 114 N. Olympic Ave.

City Councilwoman Marilyn Oertle is among the group planning to cut the ribbon at the ceremony.

“This project has been in the works for many years and has had the help of many people. We have needed a public restroom downtown for all of Arlington’s annual events, for the trail traffic and to help out our downtown businesses,” Oertle said. “The facility has water fountains, bike racks and information about Arlington. I can’t say enough good about it.”

The grand opening day begins at 10:30 a.m., with group bike rides on the Centennial Trail. Parks board members Bruce Wargo and Frank Barden have planned rides for families headed north on trail to Bryant and south on the trail for bicycling enthusiasts who want a faster pace. Riders are encouraged to bring a can of food to donate for the Arlington Community Food Bank.

T-shirts commemorating the facility opening will be for sale. Artist Caroline Sumpter created the design for the shirt, which reads “Meet me in Arlington” and features a view of the Centennial Trail over the handlebars of a bike.

The Arlington Rotary and Kiwanis clubs plan to host refreshments for the event and the Brass Menagerie quintet plans to perform at 11:30 a.m. Vintage cars, tractors and old time machinery that recall the railroad days in Arlington also are scheduled be on display, said city recreation manager Sarah Lopez.

Oertle said that Lopez, assistant city administrator Paul Ellis and state Rep. Kirk Pearson are among those responsible for completing the public campus, just south of City Hall.

Many others were involved along the way, including early civic leaders James MacLeod and Thomas Moran, who had the foresight to acquire this property for public use, Lopez said. The park property traded hands numerous times during the past century. Arlington bought the land from Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad in 1996.

In 2007, the parks board proposed that the city build a replica of Arlington’s former Northern Pacific railroad depot along the BNSF rail spur for use as a trailhead facility and a visitor information center. In 2010, the city received several grants to fund the project, including $110,00 from the state, city tourism tax income and donations from the Burlington Northern Railroad Foundation and a private citizen.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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