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Sisters paved trail projects draw controversy

By Alicia Inns
Published On: Dec 24 2013 03:11:04 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 14 2013 05:41:21 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Alicia Inns talks with homeowners and project planners in sisters about a proposed paved trail project that's drawing controversy.

SISTERS, Ore. -

A paved trail from the Crossroads Subdivision to Sisters High and a paved trail running from the edge of Sisters to Black Butte Ranch.

Two proposed projects with one goal -- connectivity.

"They're great recreational trails and they bring in a lot of people from outside the area so this would be great for our community," said Gary Guttornsen, Chairman for the Sisters Trail Alliance.

150 people turned out for a public meeting last week in Sisters, and many don't see eye to eye.

Some say the paved trails make everything more accessible, even for the disabled.

"This offers a healthier way, a  way to get around without polluting the air and contributing to traffic," said Suzanne Pepin, a Crossroads resident.

But one homeowner who didn't want to go on camera told NewsChannel 21, they weren't informed about these trails.

Others agree, there could have been more notification.

"I think the Forest Service could have done a better job of publicizing it, but it was publicized," said Bruce Mason, another Crossroads resident.

The trails are on National Forest Land, so the Forest Service doesn't need a vote or public approval to move ahead with the project.

"There were a number of folks in the Crossroads that were scoped, but they did not send scoping letters to everyone simply because they are not required by law to do that," Guttornsen said.

Another concern --safety.

"The most common concern I'm hearing is that we'll have strangers invading our community," said Crossroads resident Greg Wheeler.

But the Sisters Trail Alliance says the trail won't come closer than 280 feet to a house.

"I don't have that fear, there's the trail right here and people walk their dogs It's a friendly part of the forest," Wheeler said.

The paved trail through Crossroads is fully approved, the one to Black Butte is not. The $2.8 million project will be funded partially through grants. Organizers still want to hear from residents so they are reopening public comment on the two trails to allow for more engagement.

To learn more about the paths, you can attend a public field trip on November 19th from 9:00 a.m. to Noon. Contact Scott Mcbride at 541-549-7730 for more information.

For general information about the project call 541-549-7735

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