Tollgate Group Raises Trail Concerns

The Nugget mentions the Deschutes Land Trust and several other local organizations working on trail rehabilitation efforts in Sisters, Oregon.
By Sue Stafford
The Nugget Newspaper
1/29/2019 1:49:00 PM
Tollgate group raises trail concerns
By Sue Stafford

A group of Tollgate residents is concerned about the impact of a trail rehabilitation effort on their private property rights.

The Tollgate residents and one from Crossroads addressed Sisters City Council last week regarding the proposed refurbishing of the trail near Tollgate by the Sisters Trails Alliance (STA). The project was described in last week's Nugget and explained on a guided walk along the trail the Saturday before.

The article outlined plans by the STA to rehabilitate an existing trail that runs from Sisters High School to Tollgate through a pine forest, which is administered by the Deschutes Land Trust for the Sisters School District. A rare species of plant, Peck's penstemon, grows in the area.

Over the years the trail condition has deteriorated with use and weather. The last 550 feet of the trail near the high school athletic fields has become overgrown with sod, creating a narrow single track rather than the original eight-foot width. 

The Tollgate residents appeared to be responding to wording in The Nugget article that stated, "The trail will also serve as a community-wide recreational extension to the Tollgate pathway network that is open to the public." That statement was drawn from information provided on the guided walk by Kris Calvin, STA member and a 28-year resident of Tollgate. 

Calvin's statement was based on wording in a 2018 grant proposal from the Tollgate homeowners association to the State of Oregon Recreational Trails Program, which grants funds for public trails. The STA, SPRD, the USFS, and a number of other organizations and elected officials had provided letters of support for the grant proposal supporting Tollgate public trails. 

The homeowners association did not receive the grant. 

The Tollgate residents who spoke at the Council meeting seemed to be mainly concerned with public access to walking paths and roads within Tollgate. The roads and trails inside Tollgate are maintained by the homeowners association, and, therefore, the residents who spoke said, they are not available to the public. They do not want people to come into Tollgate to walk or ride bikes in the subdivision.

The 2018 grant application was for funds for "public trails" - thus the confusion for Calvin. 

A donor to STA originally offered $10,000 toward the trail rehabilitation. With a price tag of over $20,000, STA had hoped Tollgate would contribute some money toward rehabilitating the part of the trail that lies on Tollgate property. The last 220 feet of the trail from the Tollgate well house to the gate at the end of Wagon Wheel belongs to Tollgate.

Prior to the Council meeting, the donor had offered to cover the entire cost of the trail, eliminating the need for a letter of support (LOS) that had been requested from the City of Sisters to accompany an STA grant proposal for $5,000 from the Doppelt Foundation. The LOS was on the Council agenda until the last minute, which explains why the Tollgate residents appeared to speak to Council. Tollgate lies outside the city limits and out of the jurisdiction of the Council. 
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