Discovery Trail about to grow

Discovery Trail about to grow

LONG BEACH - With the majority of the necessary permits and property easements in its back pocket, the city of Long Beach is poised to construct what leaders such as City Administrator Nabiel Shawa consider the city's signature tourist attraction for the upcoming Lewis and Clark Expedition Bicentennial in 2003-06.

The total cost for the trail is an estimated $1.2 million, with the majority of the funding coming from a T21 grant through the state of Washington. Completion for the project is slated for Memorial Day 2003, to coincide with the dedication of the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Fort Canby State Park in Ilwaco.

National Guard constructing the trail

Members of the U.S. Army National Guard, which will be doing the vast majority of construction of the trail, are already in town setting up for the preliminary work on the trail.

"We are providing the raw materials and they are providing the labor, fuel and equipment at no charge to the city or the state," said Shawa. "This is really a good deal for the city and neat since the Lewis and Clark Expedition was a volunteer militia."

According to National Guard Lt. David Libby, with the No. 898 Engineer Battalion, he and other No. 898 members will start clearing trees and brush for the southern-most portion of the trail in the Beards Hollow area by this Thursday or Friday. This work is in preparation for more National Guard personnel to arrive on Sept. 15. At that time, heavy machinery, such as bulldozers, trucks and another "Hummer" will be brought down to the area for constructing the trail. The plan is for the National Guard to work their way north from Beards Hollow and through the dunes of Seaview and Long Beach.

Property condemnations imminent

But it is in Seaview that Long Beach city leaders see their biggest challenge in terms of the fruition of a contiguous trail, due to 20 property owners who oppose granting easements to the city of Long Beach for the trail.

As a result of this opposition, it was announced at a recent City Council meeting by Shawa and Long Beach Mayor Dale Jacobson that the city is prepared to condemn the properties in Seaview if the owners don't acquiesce.

At its Aug. 19 meeting, the City Council passed Ordinance No. 767, which lays out the justification for the trail and provides the city with a framework for condemnation and acquiring the needed easements from these property owners. Ordinance No. 767 updates Ordinance No. 738, which was adopted in 1999.

"All we're doing is formalizing what is already occurring," said Shawa. "This is the most unfortunate and difficult part of the trail. We've postponed this, but we are at the end and need to move on it if we are going to keep our schedule."

History of the trail project

The concept for the Discovery Trail project is one which first showed up in the 1980s.

"We proposed it way back then," said Shawa. "It didn't go anywhere; it was just an idea floating out there."

By the early 90s the Discovery Trail concept was included in the Pacific County Recreation Plan, and by 1995 the plan, including the draft for the trail, was adopted.

From that point the idea came up occasionally at planning meetings or showed up at the Long Beach visioning process that was led by a grant through the EPA in the mid-90s.

"What really put fire in the project was around 1998 when the state of Washington began putting out feelers on what the communities along the Lewis and Clark Trail would like to do," said Shawa.

Then that same year the city learned through a lecture at City Hall by Rex Ziak, a local Lewis and Clark historian, that there was evidence that Lewis and Clark walked on the beaches of Long Beach during their early 19th century expedition.

When Ziak opened the expedition's journals and displayed maps which showed where Clark hiked four miles up the beach after crossing the Columbia River, "the bells just went off," said Shawa. "I said, this is it, this is the trail we talked about, but now we've got historical significance behind this whole beach trail proposal and that made me light our fires. We immediately listed that as our city's number one project for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial."

Funding from several grants

From that point the city was able to secure a grant from the U.S. Forest Service in early 1999 for $100,000. The funds weren't to be seen until September of that year, so in the meantime the city submitted a proposal for federal funds funneled through the state in the form of what is known as T21 funds, which are made available through the Washington Department of Transportation. The proposal was for $1 million, of which the city ended up getting $710,000.

"We knew we struck gold," said Shawa. "That was approved and authorized in January of 2000."

Plans for the trail

The Discovery Trail will be a 10-foot wide, 8.2-mile paved asphalt trail. Plans are to run it through the dunes from north Long Beach, through Seaview to Beards Hollow, up to the existing overlook and across SR 100 and to the Port of Ilwaco. The trail segment from Long Beach to Beards Hollow is primarily located west of the 1990 SCL.

In Long Beach, the distance from the trail to the development setback line is approximately 300 feet. In Seaview the distance from the development setback is approximately 800 feet and about 1,800 feet west of the predominant line of existing development.

Numerous trail connections will include 26th Street NW, 16th Street NW, Bolstad/10th Street NW, 17th Street SW, the Seaview Beach Approach, Beards Hollow and Fort Canby State Park.

The project will also include two bridges, which will comprise the biggest expense for the project. One will be 30 feet in length and traverse the Red Lake out-fall, and a 20-foot bridge will be constructed in Beards Hollow. In addition, a boardwalk will be constructed in the Beards Hollow area. Plans for the trail also include a number of statues and monuments.

Timeline for trail construction

Plans for the Discovery Trail call for construction preparation by the National Guard No. 898 Engineer Battalion to start at the end of this week near Beards Hollow and continue until the arrival of the Washington Air National Guard No. 245 in mid-September to do culvert work and lay base rock. Then by early October, work will progress toward SR 100 and on to the MSW property portion, which will take place throughout the winter.

"In the meantime this fall, we plan to bring in the pile driver to set the pilings for the boardwalk at which time in the winter or early spring they can come back down and build the boardwalk," said Shawa. "By early spring next year all the work in the Beards Hollow will be done."

From that point, finishing work will continue in the Beards Hollow on the bridges and boardwalk and the paved portion of the trail will commence, with plans for it to be completed by Memorial Day 2003.

Shawa said there could be some delay of this paving portion due to the Seaview condemnation plans, which will require a notification process, serving summons and setting dates in Superior Court.

"I don't think we'll even get a Superior Court date until November," said Shawa.

Assuming the city gets possession and use of the Seaview easements, then there is the process of obtaining a shorline permit for the Seaview portion of the trail, which will take 120 days.

"So, then by April ideally, we will have this and we will be able to do the Seaview section in about two to three weeks," said Shawa. "It's very straightforward."

Funding will dictate completion

According to Shawa, depending on how much the trail ends up costing and whether additional funding can be procured, there may be certain portions of the project which may be left off for future construction, such as plans for numerous monuments. He said the priority between now and Memorial Day 2003 is to get the major construction finished in the Beards Hollow, which includes completion of the bridges and the boardwalk.

"If we have to we will leave off the paving portion between Beards Hollow and Long Beach for a later date," said Shawa. "We could lay gravel and come back and do the rest as funding becomes available, but our hope is to be able to have it totally completed by Memorial Day 2003."

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