Fennel Creek trail plan draws raves and worries

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By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

A proposed Fennel Creek trail plan has drawn both smiles and frowns across the region, depending on which side of the trail a person stands.

City officials have moved trails to the head of their to-do list, hoping to improve and enhance the area.

The city contracted the Tacoma urban design consulting firm Bruce Dees and Associates to draw up a trail plan last year. The plan calls for a 7-mile trail in the city running along Fennel Creek at cost of about $6 million.

A Fennel Creek Trail Committee - comprised of city staff, council representatives, residents and trail users - has been working with the consultant on the plan since April 2005.

“Bonney Lake's interest is in developing the 7-mile trail in Bonney Lake,” Community Services Director Gary Leaf said. “There are people on the committee who would like to see the trail connected to the Foothills Trail. It's not a requirement it be connected, but most trail users would want it.”

Leaf said the trail outside of Bonney Lake's city limits will be Pierce County's responsibility, and once the trail is completed in the city, “undoubtedly there will be pressure on Pierce County to get theirs done.”

Howard Engledow owns about three acres along Fennel Creek near the intersection of Angeline Road and Rhodes Lake Road just outside the city limits.

He is concerned the trail will cut through the middle of his back yard and part of his land may be condemned to complete the trail.

“If a trail is put in 100 feet either side of the ridgeline (along Fennel Creek) people will be looking directly into my house,” Engledow said. “My wife and kids and I are active. We love the outdoors. We just don't think the city or county should be able to encroach on our private property.”

Engledow said he has seen fox, bobcats, deer and pheasant along the creek and he considered his back yard a wildlife sanctuary.

“I don't want a trail in my backyard now or in 20 years,” Engledow said.

Leaf said the city and committee has already decided that no private property will be taken through condemnation to complete the trail.

“We don't want to force the trail on anyone in or outside our community,” Leaf said. “We can find ways to go around. We don't want the trail to go through someone's back yard. The committee is adamantly opposed to taking property.”

Leaf presented the city's trail plan in March to the Alderton McMillin Community Planning Board with mixed results.

“I think they were a little offended because they thought we were trying to force the trail on them,” Leaf said. “I can understand where they were coming from. There are a number of trails crisscrossing the county and there are three trails coming off the hill. I told them just pick a connection you can live with.”

Leaf noted that if the trail were connected there would likely be more trail users coming up from the valley onto the city trail.

“But that's fine with us,” Leaf said. “We want to allow county people to use the trail. We are enthusiastic about this trail.”

Kimberly Freeman, a senior planner for Pierce County and a member of the Alderton McMillin board, said, “ultimately they (Bonney Lake) need to decide what is in their plan. They are looking at some kind of connection, but we need to be cautious about crisscrossing the county with trail paths. There is no Bonney Lake trail in Pierce County until Pierce County says and Bonney Lake is fully aware of that.”

The plan is currently before the city's Planning Commission.

Dennis Box can be reached at

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