Friday, December 6, 2019

City Should be Cautious about Permanently Abandoning Croisan Scenic Way for Trail

You might recall a year ago, Salem Area Trail Alliance hosted an open house for the trails along Croisan Creek and around Sprague. They drew attention to one trail in particular, along the alignment for a future extension of Croisan Scenic Way.

The current trail along a future extension of Croisan Scenic Way
(See SATA Skyline and Croisan Trail System Topo Map)
This month they are trying to rally support to make the trail permanent.
Call to action for the Croisan Trail! There will be a presentation about the Croisan Trail at the SWAN neighborhood association meeting tomorrow, December 3rd, 6:30 pm at Salem Heights Elementary School. The action item is to get a motion to go to City Council to ask that the right of way where the trail sits be taken off the transportation plan to prevent future development along that corridor, and preserve it for recreation. Please show up if you can-- warm bodies are needed!
Councilor Nordyke attended the meeting and has expressed an initial level of enthusiasm.

Councilor Nordyke reposted the notice

On a related matter for the Dogwood trail extension, the City had earlier said in a Staff Report:
The Salem Transportation System Plan...includes plans for Croisan Scenic Way S extension to serve as a north-south minor arterial street connecting River Road S to Kuebler Boulevard S. When the extension of Croisan Scenic Way S is constructed, it will include sidewalks and bike lanes that will replace the current trail and enhance the bicycle and pedestrian connectivity in this area. The Croisan Scenic Way S extension will also meet ADA requirements, improving accessibility.
It is this minor arterial and the associated development that SATA, and apparently now Councilor Nordyke, wish to stop.

Here are questions the SATA, Councilor Nordyke, and the City should consider before making this move:
  • How important is ADA-accessability here? The current trail does not function for people with mobility devices, and a regular street build out with sidewalks and bike lanes would offer significantly better function for all ages and abilities.
  • How important is this connection in the winter, and the dark? An improved road will have lighting and stormwater drainage and offer function in a greater range of lighting and weather conditions.
  • A improved connection would also offer an alternative to Croisan Creek Road, which is curvy and zoomy. 
  • How many homes would be given up? The land here may or may not be very suitable for housing, and even market-rate housing helps with regional affordability. 
  • Advocates for a trail along Marine Drive have suggested it would be temporary until the road is built. This trail was also going to be temporary until the road was built. Is this interest in trails a longer-term move to stop other roads? Is it a covert NIMBY move rather than a clever way to leverage right-of-way during the early pre-construction history of an area planned for development? What, if any, subtext is going on here?
Abandoning the Croisan Scenic Way extension might be a good idea. This is not outright concern trolling. But there are larger interests for all ages and abilities and for our housing supply that should be included in any analysis before we conclude that a permanent designation as trail is the best and highest use for the land. Council and the City should not move hastily on this.

1 comment:

Susann Kaltwasser said...

I missed it when you originally posted about the proposal to buy land off of Dogwood to event the Croison Scenic Trail, but I wanted to share that I knew the former owner of that property. Charla Kreitzberg who passed away in 1998. She owned the side of the hill that abuts the cemetery as well as the tree farm to the north where Spring Street ends and Croisan Scenic Way would extend. She was interested in developing her land into a higher density subdivision and had both properties evaluated for slide hazard.

What she found out after a professional assessment that the property above her's (she lived on Dogwood) and adjacent to the cemetery has severe slide potential if it were to be developed. Only one lot at the east end was developable and she was advised not to remove many significant trees.

This summer, I saw that there was a development planned for that area (CASE NO. PLA-SUB-ADJ17-09MOD2) was to be modified from the original plat and for the city to buy a significant portion of the area to be an undeveloped park and to connect to Croisan Scenic Trail near the cemetery. This is not only good news for the Trail, but also preserves the natural area and protect from landslides.

I've been hoping that this purchase would go through, but not sure if it has been finalized. If this can happen, I can assure you that it would make Charla happy. She was the chairperson for South Salem Neighborhood Association (which existed for many years prior to it being combined with Croisan NA to become SWAN) and worked on land use for many years.

Do you know where the acquisition stands now? Any time we can preserve natural areas and also provide recreation we should be supportive.

Although I must say that this area is super wet and clearly any homes that are built next to the cemetery are going to be struggling against the drainage issues...I mean why do you think such areas are still remaining? They are super problematic and truth is some areas just should not be built upon!