Marysville trail plan draws resistance

MARYSVILLE — Some of the people who live along the route of a proposed walking trail on the east hill of Marysville are dead set against the plan.

A few say there’s nothing the city could do to soften any effects of having the trail nearby.

“If they’re going to do it, just buy me out, I’ll just move out of Marysville,” said John Blackmon, who has lived on 75th Street NE since 1994.

The city of Marysville for 15 years has planned to build a trail beneath the Snohomish County PUD power lines that run west of 83rd Avenue NE, parks director Jim Ballew said.

The eventual plan calls for the trail to extend from 88th Street NE south to Soper Hill Road, a distance of nearly three miles. The trail would cross several streets on the route, including 75th. The streets would be marked with crosswalks.

The city still needs parts of four residential lots, including Blackmon’s, on both sides of 75th to provide access to the corridor, Ballew said. The city hopes to have the northern half of the trail open by next year.

Last year the city was given a parcel slightly larger than a half-acre where the corridor meets 75th Street NE. The grassy area, with an asphalt path already built, was donated by WCD Development of Bowen Island, B.C.

Opponents say the trail, with picnic tables, benches, drinking fountains and views to the west, would bring crime, drug use, sex offenders “and all the rest of the junk that goes with these walking trails,” said Sandie Phipps, who lives on 75th opposite the power lines from Blackmon.

The city would need 50 feet of Blackmon’s lot, which is slightly larger than three-quarters of an acre and extends under the power lines. The city wouldn’t only be taking his land, but would put an end to his wife’s beekeeping operation, Blackmon said.

He said about 10 other people who live along the proposed trail have responded to a flier he distributed, and all have said they’re against it, he said.

One of them is John Knowlden.

“I don’t want people walking behind me,” Knowlden said. “I don’t think anybody would like that. It’s just like a trail through your back yard.”

The city’s negotiations with the four homeowners have included offers to erect fencing, Ballew said. Most of the trail would not be fenced.

“I don’t know who wants it. It seems like a waste of money,” Knowlden said.

City officials say they’ve heard from many bike riders and walkers who feel they don’t have enough sidewalks and trails that keep them safe from autos.

“I’m fine with it,” said Dallas McCormick, who lives next to the planned trail, across the street from Phipps. “We’d use it.”

“We’re kind of excited about having a walking trail,” said McCormick’s wife, Laurie. “I think it’s an addition to the neighborhood.”

The city currently has 11 miles of recreation trails within parks and designated bike lanes on streets, but only one walking trail, along Munson Creek.

Opponents point out that Munson Creek and the Centennial Trail — the latter is outside the city, across Highway 9 — are close to the PUD right-of-way, providing recreation opportunities.

So far, the city has not reached an agreement with any of the four property owners. The city and some of the residents give differing versions about their negotiations. The residents say they’ve received conflicting information, while Ballew said it’s been consistent.

The city hopes to have the trail between 88th and 64th open by next year and start work on the southern part in 2010, Ballew said.

The first of the two phases is estimated to cost about $740,000, he said. A cost estimate has not been developed for the southern half.

Money has come from developers, private donations and state and federal grants.

Reporter Bill Sheets: 425-2339-3439 or sheets@heraldnet.com.

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