May 25, 2013 in Washington Voices

Trail proposal unveiled

Crowd turns out to see plans for Appleway site
By The Spokesman-Review
 

The drawings of a section of the proposed Appleway Trail between University Road and Evergreen Road look lush with trees, native vegetation, natural play areas and flower cutting gardens. But such a trail is likely years away as the city of Spokane Valley continues to search for construction funding.

The trail would be built on the old Milwaukee Railroad right of way south of Sprague Avenue. The property is owned by Spokane County, but the county has agreed to let the city build a trail on the land until it is needed for future transportation requirements.

The city plans to build the trail as soon as possible and then add amenities as money allows.

That didn’t seem to bother the crowd of people who turned out for a public meeting Wednesday to get a look at the proposed trail design. It includes a large plaza at University Road and a smaller one at Evergreen Road. In between there could be exercise stations, benches, a mountain bike course and habitat islands for wildlife.

“We wanted to invite nature back but we wanted to do it in a way that was safe,” said landscape architect Brice Maryman.

At a previous meeting people indicated that their highest priorities were lighting, native landscaping, benches and restrooms. “This is conceptual,” Maryman said. “Not everything is fleshed out, nor is it written in stone.”

People said they wanted a meandering trail, which is reflected in the proposed plan. The vegetation would be designed to need little maintenance, said landscape architect Mike Terrell. Plants could include serviceberry, red twig dogwood, Rocky Mountain maple and ponderosa pine. The old right of way has little topsoil and is very rocky, Terrell said. “We’re not going to get a lot of growth and we’re not going to irrigate,” he said.

The residents who attended expressed concerns about keeping the trail separate from nearby homes and businesses. The plan called for one restroom at University Road and one man suggested also putting one in at Evergreen and somewhere in the middle.

“I’m concerned about parking,” said Eva Roberts, who owns Just American Desserts at Appleway and University. “How are we going to handle that?”

Senior traffic engineer Inga Note said the city is looking into getting an agreement with STA to use the park and ride lot located at the start of the trail on University. “There’s a lot of parking lots nearby,” she said. “We have some options to look at.”

Roberts owns the building that houses her business and a few others. She said she’s concerned that people wanting to use the trail would park in her parking lot, using parking that is needed for business customers.

Despite her reservations, Roberts is a fan of the proposed trail. “I think this is a positive, great thing,” she said.

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