City has not been transparent to all residents | LETTER

There are big changes proposed along our beloved Cedar River Trail, along the north side, roughly bordered by the Library and the Senior Center. The proposal has the city demolishing the riverfront portion of this trail, and relocating walkers and runners up to street level. We would share Riverside Drive with residents coming and going to their driveways, other cars, motorcycles, bikes etc. It would have us cross three very busy streets.

Sadly, many of us have not been aware of these significant proposed changes. Though the surrounding neighbors have had a chance to offer comment, the remainder of the city residents were in the dark about these proposals. In contrast to the well-publicized meetings for the Parks and Trails, (large ads in the Renton Reporter, articles in the Byte of Renton, in the mayor’s newsletter, signs at the library and notices at the community center) we’ve heard relatively little about these riverfront trail changes. I’m very active in our community, yet learned of this proposal from another trail user who lives next to the trail. Recently, due to the swift action of a city councilman in response to my emails, a few small “notices” were placed at the trail, in an effort to better inform the public.

This week the Planning Commission met and provided an opportunity for citizen comment. Many residents were on hand from several areas around the city, and over a dozen people spoke in opposition to these changes.

The Planning Commission learned that there is a large contingent of Renton citizens who heartily oppose the demolition of the riverside trail on the north side of the Cedar River. We are clearly not enamored of their Woonerf concept, finding it a truly flawed design.

Sharing a road with traffic, residents coming and going, cars speeding through crosswalks which are already “blind”, and the hassle for residents and guests of those who live along Riverside Drive (where on earth will they park?) all highlight some very real flaws in this plan.

So many folks spoke about the danger in crossing three very busy streets—Wells, Williams and Bronson. Seniors and families with children, especially, will find this extremely unsafe. And those of us who are still quite fit, like the opportunity to be ”up close and personal” with the river in all its seasons, without the worry of curbs, traffic etc. The wildlife, the water, the relative tranquility of this stretch of the river are a treasured gem in our city. The connection now enjoyed with a trip to the Library, and walk to the lake—unimpeded by traffic, are all so important to us. It’s the only stretch of the river where we can enjoy such a special time. We would hate to see such a substantial change.

Also, not noted, but apparent to anyone who frequents the trail and studies the schematic, is the present existence of a pedestrian walkway along Logan. It may not be fancy, or dedicated, or whatever, but it is fully accessible and separated from traffic by jersey barriers. It works just fine. The city could simply add some metal adornments on top the barrier to make it “dedicated”, etc. Permits and building windows for a new bridge such as the one at Riverview Park are very limited and restrictive.

Also, important to note, will be the relocation of a significant sculpture “We’re All in This Boat Together”, which currently resides on the abutment which is shown in the schematic as a support for the proposed new pedestrian bridge.

I believe the overall consensus of the citizens present at this meeting was that whatever funds are available or earmarked for this very extensive project be used to maintain/repair the riverfront trail as it presently exists. Those funds could safeguard the security of the area with security cameras, with lights and fencing under bridges, and with necessary repairs as they surface. It’s really been a durable trail, considering the seasonal flooding that occurs, and considering it’s age.

Finally, the persons present at the meeting were all in favor of the improvements that are planned along the south side of the river. That will make for a more cohesive connection from Logan to Jones Park and onward to Bronson Avenue.

The Planning Commission will make its recommendation to the City Council at their Oct. 4 meeting. It takes place at 6 p.m. at City Hall. I urge interested citizens to make their feelings known to the Commission and Council prior to that time.

Judi Schafer, Renton

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