The Yamhelas Westsider Trail continues to be a hotly debated topic in Yamhill County. It sprang up again in the informal session of the Yamhill County Commissioners. Commissioner Mary Starrett accused fellow commissioner Rick Olson of “flipping” his position on the trail. One week voting no and the next week voting yes. Starrett called in an issue of transparency and called it disconcerting.
Olson said it’s a matter of process, or the lack of process. Olson says the planning process for the trail has been misguided and disjointed, and if it took a no vote from him to get it back on track, then so be it.
The latest issue is about a connect Oregon grant for one-point-two million dollars. Starrett is concerned the county may have to re-pay the grant back for design work on three pedestrian bridges if the trail is never built. She says the county should not incur any more financial liability on the trail, and the process should be stopped in it’s tracks.
Olson has stated, and did so yesterday that he supports the trail, but will vote no on a grant application if he feels the process is broken.
Olson wants the county to ask ODOT and OBEC if the bridge design grant can be modified so compliance for a grant could include design and construction on one bridge, the Stag Hollow Bridge, then go back to ODOT later for design work on two other pedestrian bridges.
Keeping the county in grant compliance, he feels could lessen the chances of the state wanting 500-thousand dollars paid back because grant benchmarks were not met.
County Administrator Ken Huffer says he wants to have more discussion with ODOT and OBEC on exactly what the county needs to do to meet grant requirements and not have to repay the grant. Huffer hopes to have some answers next week.