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Blackjack Creek Trail work could start soon

The first phase of Port Orchard’s proposed Blackjack Creek Trail passed a public comment and session last week, and construction of the trail could begin later this summer.

The trail, which runs along Blackjack Creek, will begin at Bay Street near Etta Turner Park and end at an existing trail located at Kendall Street. The trail, approximately 1.25 miles long, will eventually be part of a 13-mile trail network extending to the intersection of Sedgwick Road and Sidney Road.

Funding for the trail was secured in 2009, when the state received a grant from the State Recreation and Conservation Office.

An existing informal trail already exists, said James Weaver, the city’s planning director. The city’s new trail will run in line with the existing trail, minimizing the environmental impact of creating a new path, Weaver said.

Weaver also said work on the trail will take care to not harm the environment, and part of the plan’s is that no trees are cut in establishing a better footpath and leveling grades.

“We want maximum use with minimum impact to the environment,” Weaver said, noting that users of the unofficial trail often vear off path and head down to the creek.

“The trail will be improved and actually help the environment.”

Weaver is hoping a completed trail will lessen the number of people illegally camping at certain sections of the current path.

During the planning phase of the trail, city surveyors did minimal work on the unofficial trail, opening it up slightly for better access.

Currently, Weaver said, a number of transients live near the creek, and there have been reports of graffiti, burglary and other illegal activity. An improved trail would lessen the obscurity of the site, and allow better access for police.

“We’re hoping a proposed project mitigates any activity,” Weaver said.

However, a few neighbors don’t agree. Dean Christofferson owns a house on Harrison Avenue that backs up to the Blackjack Creek ravine.

His house has been burgled recently, he said, and he often sees a number of “shady characters” walking his property line. Christofferson said he hoped increased access with an official trail would lessen an undesirable presence, but he wasn’t so sure.

“It’s hard to get down there now, what is it going to be like when it’s easier for people to get down?” Chrisofferson asked.

Weaver said a proper trail would be monitored by police. Construction of the trail would be done with little - if any - heavy equipment. Weaver said he hoped the city could utilize volunteers in constructing the official trail.

 

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