EVERETT — After months of Ibberson Drive residents criticizing and questioning the proposed Silver Lake Trail, city staff changed the route March 19 and affirmed that decision during an online meeting Tuesday night.
“This piece of property goes back a long way. … I do believe it’s a complicated matter and I believe it’s been bogging down this entire project,” Everett Parks director Bob Leonard said.
That’s why the city pulled the Ibberson Drive portion from the project.
Ibberson Drive neighbors consider themselves a tight-knit community on Silver Lake’s north shore.
About 30 homes line East Ibberson Drive and West Ibberson Drive, which connect as a U-shaped loop off Silver Lake Road. Gary Fontes, Debbie Gomes, and Chris and Melissa Woytko said they wave when many of their fellow Silver Lake residents walk by. They host neighborhood gatherings and clean up the small private beach lot owned collectively by Ibberson Drive residents who don’t have waterfront property.
The road is tight, too. If a car is parked along the side, it’s almost impossible for two vehicles to pass each other. That is a concern Fontes, Gomes and the Woytkos, among several others, have had about city plans for the Silver Lake Trail through the shared beach lot and onto the skinny street. Everett parks staff announced March 19 they removed that segment from the project.
In interviews and public meetings, several neighbors said they worry about crime, more cars parking illegally and challenge the city’s easement claim through the private waterfront for the Silver Lake Trail project.
“We want a trail, we just don’t want it to ruin our way of life,” Melissa Woytko said.
Completing the Silver Lake Trail has been in the city’s long-range plans for years.
The project was one of Mayor Cassie Franklin’s stated goals for 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on city revenues and staffing cuts delayed those plans. She restated her commitment to the trail, pared back and with some elements in phases, during her State of Everett address in January. Franklin commonly refers to Silver Lake as one of the city’s best kept secrets and a hidden gem; finishing a trail around it makes it more accessible.
The Silver Lake Trail project would complete a two-mile loop around the water. Some segments, such as the sidewalks along 19th Avenue SE and non-paved portions through Thornton A. Sullivan Park, already exist. Other parts, including on the south end of the lake and pavement through the park, need to be built.
On the south side of the lake, the trail would formalize a pedestrian route through Silver Lake Drive. In some places there the pedestrian path will be five feet wide next to 18-foot or 22-foot vehicle lanes.
“We can allow vehicles and pedestrians to somewhat share the road,” Everett principal engineer Tom Hood said.
From Silver Lake Drive, the new paved trail would enter Thornton A. Sullivan Park, go past the disc golf course, and north toward 112th Street SW and Silver Lake Road.
In the March 19 update, Everett Parks and Facilities Manager Cory Rettenmeier wrote that the city could pursue a trail through Ibberson Drive in the future. That was reiterated by other city staff Tuesday.
“At least at this point the city does feel we have the right of way,” Everett property manager Paul McKee said Tuesday.
Space for pedestrians on Silver Lake Road has been a concern for Ibberson Drive residents for years. The trail there is marked only by a white line and does not have a sidewalk or curb.
“We love it here so much we want to stay,” Gomes said. “We don’t want our neighborhood sacrificed for what the city says is the best trail option, which it’s not.”
The state House and Senate capital budgets consider funding for the trail. The House’s version shows the grant request at $500,000. The city has $459,000 in matching funds. Work could begin later this year and is estimated to cost over $900,000.
Some of the to-be-funded elements include a boardwalk from Silver Lake Drive to a peninsula over the water, commonly called Silver Lake Lake. That work is estimated to begin next year or in 2023, depending on when money for it is secured, Everett project manager Dean Shaughnessy said Tuesday.
Further on and with more funding, a boardwalk over the lake connecting the northern part of the trail to Green Lantern Park could be possible.
Ben Watanabe: firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.