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home : opinions : opinions July 22, 2014


7/16/2013 12:52:00 PM
Transparency needed in path debate
By Steve Madsen


Transparency - noun: Openness, accountability, straightforwardness, candor.

Recent commentary concerning the proposed Sisters-Black Butte multi-use trail indicates a need for the U.S. Forest Service, Sisters Trails Alliance, Sisters Park & Recreation District to be transparent about this proposal; to publicly clarify actions taken and comments made.

Did the inspiration for this trail originate with the USFS or STA?

During a meeting held at the Tollgate community hall April 23, 2012, the STA and USFS stated that no taxpayer money would be used for this trail. An email sent June 2012 to the U.S. Forest Service questioned this comment. No answer was received. There is evidence that grant applications have been made and do involve taxpayer money.

Explain.

The STA has been named the responsible party for planning/maintenance of this trail from outset up to and including the release of the USFS Environmental Assessment. Now it has been disclosed that the STA cannot be held responsible. Why has it taken more than one year for this to be revealed by the USFS in a May 22, 2013, Nugget article, and why was the STA allowed to make the statement that they would be responsible? It

has been stated in an opinion piece in The Nugget that the STA is not a legal entity; how then can they be co-sponsors on grant applications and sign contracts? It is my understanding that the STA exists under the auspices of the Sisters Park & Recreation District. Did the SPRD have any complicity in this; were they unaware of what was happening; was the SPRD misled; is the SPRD going to accept the security and maintenance responsibilities of this trail since the STA cannot contractually accept them?

The USFS has been asked by email about consequences should the STA not maintain the trail and who would maintain the trail should the STA not fulfill their contract. Again, no answer from the USFS. Has the STA resources to maintain the trail? Taxpayer money?

The Sisters Community Trails Project was initiated as a need for connectivity between the city of Sisters and outlying communities. At no time, to my knowledge, have the residents of Tollgate, Crossroads or Black Butte Ranch been polled about this need for connectivity. The homeowners associations may have submitted a letter of support, but this support is not based upon input from the majority of the residents of these communities. The STA had no desire to poll the residents of these communities, and apparently, the various HOA boards had no desire to do so either.

It's not too late for them to do so now.

Do the residents of the city of Sisters feel a need for connectivity to outlying communities? They should be involved also as this may affect their taxes.

Is there a written, comprehensive plan for this trail that reveals financing, construction, security and maintenance? This should be made public - if one exists.

Just how much will this project cost the taxpayers? A most important question. Every reader of The Nugget Newspaper will have an investment in this project. Does the projected usage justify the cost?



Steve Madsen is a resident of Tollgate

Sisters Country Weddings




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