The Fish Lake Trail is an old railroad right-of-way between Cheney and Spokane that the City of Spokane controls. Right now about three miles of the trail are paved alongside Fish Lake itself. When stretches on either side of this paved portion are completed it will provide the final link for connecting The Centennial Trail to the Columbia Plateau Trail, and on to the John Wayne Trail. In addition to this amazing linkage the completion of the Fish Lake Trail would provide the perfect bike route between EWU and Spokane, not to mention a killer recreation route. Many years after the trail was first proposed David Evans and Associates is now hard at work researching the final phases of the trail.

Many obstacles stand in the way of the trail completion, old derelict train trestles, railroad crossings that might require expensive bridges, as well as grading and paving. But the biggest obstacle is getting the project to be a higher priority at City Hall and with it the aggressive pursuit of funding-likely more than four million dollars.

At a public meeting regarding the trail on August 23rd a healthy turnout of pro-trail citizens gave our attending city representatives, including Mayor Dennis Hession, Mike Stone and Taylor Bressler both of Spokane Parks, a polite earful in support of the project.

The best question of the night came from Jon Rascoff past president of the Spokane Bicycle Club and current Friends of the Centennial Trail Chairman odf the Board. Jon wanted to know why the Parks Board was moving so aggressively to secure over $5 million dollars to buy the Riverfront Park YMCA property-going so far as to float the idea of a bond issue-while a visionary project like the Fish Lake Trail languishes?

No one had a good answer for this question because there is none. The Fish Lake Trail, or another urban trail like the Centennial Trail West Link/SFCC connection, would serve more people and provide more benefit for the dollar than a small patch of asphalt in Riverfront Park. I can’t speak for the Park Board but Hession, Stone, and Bressler seemed to be genuinely looking for some guidance as to how high to prioritize the trail project. Good. Let’s give it to ’em. Now is a great time to get involved in the Fish Lake Trail and to let the City know you support transportation and recreation over inflated real estate dealings.

P.S. Get involved at http://www.inlandnorthwesttrails.org

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