REEDSPORT — In a series of upcoming meetings, The Reedsport Deans to Dunes Trail Plan Project Advisory Committee met Monday, Nov. 6, at City Hall.
Meetings will culminate with trails for residents and tourists alike, helping ideally bring more visitors to the Reedsport-Winchester Bay area.
Consultants from the SCJ Alliance provided an introductory presentation at the trail planning project, according to Planning Director Jessica Terra and Planning Secretary Cindy Phillips.
Terra said the advisory committee "will meet approximately three times during the course of the project."
"Open houses and public meetings will be held at least three times during the course of the project as well," Terra said. "These public meetings are held in addition to the advisory meetings but the advisory meetings are open to the public also."
SCJ Alliance is a consulting firm based out of Vancouver, Wash. Terra said city staff received two proposals to choose from "back in January of this year, and the project was awarded to SCJ Alliance due to their prior experience in similar trail planning projects."
The money comes from what's called a transportation growth management or TGM grant.
"The grant amount for this planning project (not development of the trail, as those estimated costs, along with potential funding sources, will be determined during this plan development process) is $115,150," Terra wrote in an email. "The city is obligated to a matching amount of $16,511 (approximately 12 percent of the project cost). This is generally met with in-kind services, but funds, specifically to be used for bicycle trail planning and development, have been set aside if the full amount cannot be met with in-kind services. The project is due to wrap up next September."
Specifically the grant comes from Oregon Department of Transportation and the Department of Land Conservation and Development.
Terra said the intent is "to support the integration of land use and transportation planning efforts."
She added that the "program offers these grants to local communities in order to 'plan for streets and land use in a way that leads to more livable, economically vital, and sustainable communities (TGM website).'"
According to the grant providers, they prefer to see proposals for better transportation systems, "often times that would result in alternative routes, which provide non-motorized options for getting to work, school, shopping, or to other services in a community, thus resulting in less reliance on motor vehicles and the highway systems."
The city planning director emphasized the public process and the overall significance to the area.
"The purpose is to create an off-highway trail experience (where it is possible) that extends from the Dean Creek Elk Viewing area to Reedsport and from Reedsport to the Oregon Dunes, Winchester Bay."
"The Reedsport connection would incorporate past planning projects, such as the Levee Loop Trail, Rainbow Plaza Concept, waterfront and downtown, and Bike-Ped Study Plans that identify improved bicycle and pedestrian systems," Terra continued.
A key part of this is that "Reedsport has received three of these grants in just the past six years...." Those consist of Deans to Dunes, Levee Loop and Waterfront and Downtown.
"The effort is being made to reduce the reliance on the highway systems by promoting other modes of transportation," the planning director emphasized. "This could be especially important for those residents who live in Winchester Bay but work or go to school in Reedsport (or the other way around) as it provides safer alternatives for non-motorized commuters."
The planning director noted that although city staff are working with Douglas County employees are only working on the planning component of the trail at this time, "future development would also provide residents and visitors with better access to the community's natural features and promote recreation activities, such as hiking, biking, walking, kayaking, fishing, etc."
The concept is to identify an off-highway trail (where possible) from the Deans Creek Elk Viewing area to the Oregon Dunes in Winchester Bay," according to a press release. The advisory committee "is tasked with guiding the outcome of this trail planning document." They said the group is made up of members from "surrounding agencies, districts, businesses, the public and various groups who were invited to participate. This will be the initial kick-off meeting for the PAC." Information: contact Phillips, at 541-271-3603, ext. 4, or by emailing her at email@example.com
"Reedsport's economy is largely dependent on tourism, so being able to spotlight Reedsport's natural beauty and assets in this trail plan, then use it as a marketing tool to draw visitors is an added bonus of the project."