Trails Cache to host second public meeting on canal pathway access

<a href=”https://trails.cachecounty.org/#home”>The Trails Cache</a> is a collaborative effort led by Cache County to serve as “the central gathering point for anyone interested in supporting, promoting and improving Cache Valley’s beautiful trail network.” On April 12, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., the organization will host the second of two community meetings scheduled this spring to invite public feedback involving access to approximately eight miles of the middle canal pathway between Logan and Smithfield. The meeting will take place at Greenville Elementary School (2450 N. 400 E. in North Logan).

Dayton Crites, Cache County’s trails planner, said the first meeting—held March 29, in Hyde Park—“went great.” With nearly 200 people in attendance, the open house drew more participation than expected.

“We were really there to listen to the community regarding the at times contentious nature of these historic canal pathways,” Crites explained. “You basically have people that say, ‘I’ve walked these for years and generations and these should remain public amenities,’ and you have their neighbors that say, ‘No, this should be closed off to private landowners only and the canal company.”

Crites said his role as the county trails planner is to determine how best to utilize the canal trail to connect communities. While some attendees of the Hyde Park meeting came expecting a formal presentation, he said the gatherings were designed primarily as listening sessions, giving his office an opportunity to receive direct input regarding the potential use of prescriptive easement to preserve public access to the trails. The real question, Crites said, belongs to the community— “What future would you like to see on this?”

“If there’s a way we can do this better or right for the people that live adjacent to it, that’s exactly how we want to do it,” he said. “As much as I’d aspire to preserve miles and miles of this between these communities, it might only be chunks, but we want to find out where it’s going to work best. It’s not as simple as just a vote. It’s not a one size fits all. I’m trying to really understand this on a landowner-by-landowner basis, and that’s how we’ll proceed.”

Crites would like to wait until after next Wednesday’s meeting to make a formal statement on next steps to be taken, but he said 130-150 feedback cards were collected following the Hyde Park meeting last month. He said people who do not live on the canal bank overwhelmingly support preserving public access, while landowners adjacent to the canal are more divided. Of 71 landowners with whom he has communicated directly, Crites said 41 supported public access, 25 opposed it and five said, “it depends how you do it.” He urges all who would like their voices heard to attend the meeting at Greenville Elementary on April 12.

“If you want to see this happen, if you don’t want to see this happen. If you live along the corridor or if you don’t live along the corridor, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “We need to hear from the community, so if it’s something that interests you, show up.”

More information about the Trails Cache is available at <a href=”https://trails.cachecounty.org/”>https://trails.cachecounty.org</a>. Follow <a href=”https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxlK-83tAyrnNzhpQ2JSenNMenM/view” target=”_blank”>this link</a> for an overview map of the proposed middle canal pathway preservation project. 

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