My husband and I walked the entire lowland stretch of the Fennel Creek Trail. We encountered many people, but were struck by two grade-school age boys on bikes. They were just coming through the driveway off of 185th Ave. E. and headed for the bridge. Obviously one of the boys was new to the area and was surprised to see the bridge and exclaimed “Hey, look at that!” The other boy said with pride “That’s the bridge my Dad and I walk on all the time.”
The first stretch of the much awaited Fennel Creek Trail opened recently. And as with anything new and different, there are adjustments to be made. It appears as a whole, people like using the trail.
First, a little history about the Fennel Creek Trail and how it came to be. The idea came about from a survey taken by the city in 1997. Those who completed the survey felt a trail was a priority.
What is a trail? It is a linear park. This one will eventually run diagonally through the entire city from the southern border at Victor Falls to the north, where it potentially will branch out to Allan Yorke Park, Bonney Lake Elementary and the future Flume Trail at the city property at Barkubein Road E. It will intersect in the Midtown business district at the state Route 410 sidewalk that runs from Downtown to Eastown. It is a non-motorized transportation corridor that will allow people on bikes, skateboards, in wheel chairs, walking and running to travel without getting in their car. You can enjoy the Fennel Creek watershed and get some exercise on your way to pick up a few things at the store. It balances park, transportation and economic elements of the city’s comprehensive plan; the trail plan was added in 2007.
Park rules apply. The trail is only open dawn to dusk, not after dark. And tampering with landscaping is prohibited.
Please don’t litter. Courtesy patrols by trail users would go a long way. When my husband and I recently walked the trail, my husband picked up the litter, which was minimal. There is a litter receptacle and pooper scooper kiosk. Please use them for their intended purpose. And let’s be good neighbors and not tamper or litter the neighboring community.
Perhaps items small enough to be thrown at fences, houses or each other, like rocks should be removed from landscaping. Please play nice in the sandbox. Park on Van Dyke and walk in; be sure not to park in front of the community mailboxes. Be courteous of neighbors and trail users. A camera like the one at the skate park at Allan Yorke and is always an option (but not one I would welcome in that location).
Speaking of sand – the Foothills Trail has a narrow dirt/sand path to the side of the porous trail to accommodate horses. We do have horses in the area and they will be sharing the trail. I suggest horses walk on either side of the trail, not on the porous asphalt. Read more about this on page 27 of the trail plan on the Bonney Lake City website.
What is the material that the trail and utility area are paved with? It is 2 inches of permeable asphalt that allows water to pass through to the 4 inches of crushed rock that sits on yet another 12 inches of ballast. This prevents water pooling on the trail as well as run off. It then percolates into the ground and is clarified in this natural way.
The current Safe Routes to Schools portion helps connect those disconnected neighborhoods in the Angeline Valley with each other and schools at the top of the hill. A couple of these disconnected neighborhoods were platted in Pierce County prior to annexation into the city of Bonney Lake at about the same time the Fennel Creek Trail plan was adopted. Before they were built between 2001 and 2005, the land was pasture and open space, including the Van Dyk dairy farm. This means the neighborhoods were built to Pierce County standards and do not have connectivity with regards to roads or sidewalks. This is a concern on many levels, but one is public safety response when each neighborhood has a separate entrance and two, kids getting to the bus stop and/or school where sidewalks are lacking. Citizens of the Angeline Valley presented a petition to the city this past summer. And recently the mayor proposed a solution and Bonney Lake City council voted unanimously to approve a missing link to the sidewalk on Angeline between Panorama and 111th St E. The cost will be about $74,000. Completing missing links and tying sidewalks to the Fennel Creek trail will go far to connect these communities safely.
Residents of other cities have embraced trails and consider it an amenity when marketing their homes for sale; much like living on Lake Tapps is an amenity.
In walking the trail, I can see places were more native plantings could be added to improve privacy and security. Plants with thorns like wild roses and Oregon grape do much to keep people away from areas they should not be. Fragrant trees or those with beautiful fall foliage can help screen the trail from neighbors. Have you noticed those awesome trees with ferns growing up and down their trunks? And how about those stately cedars near the creek that now everyone can enjoy?
The trail is closed after dark, so why subject neighbors to bounce back from their back porch lights with a reflective sign? Replace reflective signs with something with matte finish to prevent glare at night. No one should be reading those signs in the dark, right? I noticed one sign pulled out of the ground. Perhaps this was the reason.
Other parks around the city have kiosks constructed by Eagle Scouts to educate park users about the special attributes of that particular park, its history, its native plants and neighborhood news. A trail map would be helpful here as well as the park rules.
In my opinion, pedestrians, bikes and cars don’t mix on a one lane driveway. There is a high fence on each side of the driveway off of 185th Ave E (near the intersection of Van Dyk St.). Those two grade school boys and my husband and I met in that driveway and were also both surprised by “running into each other.” The city will be keeping the gate closed and locked except for maintenance. However, what about disabled users? Can they navigate the walk-in gate? Should there be one spot reserved at the driveway entrance for ADA accessibility?
On a weekend getaway my husband and I traveled to Vancouver Wash. They have a great trail system near the Columbia River. We witnessed an elderly couple enjoying the late afternoon summer sun. She with her walker and he walking patiently by her side. They both seemed to enjoy being in the fresh air, people watching and viewing the boats on the river. Perhaps they had just had dinner at one of the nearby restaurants. We passed them twice on our way out and back. And while they did not make much progress, they were able to make it from their car to the next bench on the trail and sit and enjoy a warm summer evening together. And they were smiling and talking.
The Park Board held a hearing at their November meeting and discussed the topic at their December meeting. They will make their recommendations to the City Council. If this item is of interest to you, be sure to watch City Council agendas early in 2014 and attend meetings for more information or to voice your ideas. The city needs and wants to get this right; it is the first segment of more to come and sets the tone for building the remainder of the trail.