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home : current news : current news February 21, 2019

1/29/2019 1:49:00 PM
Tollgate group raises trail concerns
By Sue Stafford

A group of Tollgate residents is concerned about the impact of a trail rehabilitation effort on their private property rights.

The Tollgate residents and one from Crossroads addressed Sisters City Council last week regarding the proposed refurbishing of the trail near Tollgate by the Sisters Trails Alliance (STA). The project was described in last week's Nugget and explained on a guided walk along the trail the Saturday before.

The article outlined plans by the STA to rehabilitate an existing trail that runs from Sisters High School to Tollgate through a pine forest, which is administered by the Deschutes Land Trust for the Sisters School District. A rare species of plant, Peck's penstemon, grows in the area.

Over the years the trail condition has deteriorated with use and weather. The last 550 feet of the trail near the high school athletic fields has become overgrown with sod, creating a narrow single track rather than the original eight-foot width.

The Tollgate residents appeared to be responding to wording in The Nugget article that stated, "The trail will also serve as a community-wide recreational extension to the Tollgate pathway network that is open to the public." That statement was drawn from information provided on the guided walk by Kris Calvin, STA member and a 28-year resident of Tollgate.

Calvin's statement was based on wording in a 2018 grant proposal from the Tollgate homeowners association to the State of Oregon Recreational Trails Program, which grants funds for public trails. The STA, SPRD, the USFS, and a number of other organizations and elected officials had provided letters of support for the grant proposal supporting Tollgate public trails.

The homeowners association did not receive the grant.

The Tollgate residents who spoke at the Council meeting seemed to be mainly concerned with public access to walking paths and roads within Tollgate. The roads and trails inside Tollgate are maintained by the homeowners association, and, therefore, the residents who spoke said, they are not available to the public. They do not want people to come into Tollgate to walk or ride bikes in the subdivision.

The 2018 grant application was for funds for "public trails" - thus the confusion for Calvin.

A donor to STA originally offered $10,000 toward the trail rehabilitation. With a price tag of over $20,000, STA had hoped Tollgate would contribute some money toward rehabilitating the part of the trail that lies on Tollgate property. The last 220 feet of the trail from the Tollgate well house to the gate at the end of Wagon Wheel belongs to Tollgate.

Prior to the Council meeting, the donor had offered to cover the entire cost of the trail, eliminating the need for a letter of support (LOS) that had been requested from the City of Sisters to accompany an STA grant proposal for $5,000 from the Doppelt Foundation. The LOS was on the Council agenda until the last minute, which explains why the Tollgate residents appeared to speak to Council. Tollgate lies outside the city limits and out of the jurisdiction of the Council.

Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, February 10, 2019
Article comment by: winter lewis

I am in strong support of upgrading the existing Tollgate trail. Given the dollars made available through generous donations, the residents of Tollgate would be receiving an upgrade to our living community without additional cost to the homeowner. Hiking and cycling trails connecting living communities to towns and cities has the dual benefit of increasing livability and increasing property value for those living there. Let's get it done.

Posted: Friday, February 1, 2019
Article comment by: Randall McCall

My wife and I have been homeowners and part time residents of Tollgate for about seven years, and we've seen the battles re change of any kind in the Nugget, and the arguments never cease to amaze us. The idea that refurbishment of an existing trail so that it could be used by kids to safely get to school is a threat to privacy for this group of private property owners is puzzling. How would it affect their privacy on an existing trail of which only 222’ is on Tollgate land on the SE end by our public well (especially if you live in Crossroads!)?

A letter to the editor in the same edition of the paper suggested that people might use that improved access to burglarize homes in Tollgate. I really had to laugh at that one - wouldn't it be easier just to drive in rather than trying to carry that 65" flat screen down the gravel path on foot?

The trail surface pretty much sucks unless you are on foot – loose gravel is not an inducement for getting kids to ride to school. Sure I can could probably ride my mountain bike on it in any conditions, and I did last weekend just to see what it was like as I had never been on that trail (I typically use a different route to get to SHS – a combo of sand and gravel pits with some nice buff singletrack). But that was in wet conditions and it was fairly compacted with the melted snow and ice. I imagine it’s pretty loose and ugly in the summer months.

I’m personally very much in favor of improving that trail. It exists, it sucks in its present form, and it can be improved easily. If STA is successful in getting the job done, I’ll be riding my road bike that way as well (I promise to wave, say hi, and be respectful of your privacy). As someone who rides to Sisters and up McKenzie Pass frequently, the thought of an alternative to Hwy 20 is beyond attractive. And with a safer and better maintained surface for my Tollgate neighbor’s kids for getting to the schools, I’m hard pressed to think that there is a good argument against the refurbishment that even comes close to countervailing the benefits of restoring the original function of that pathway. Let's improve safe access for Tollgate children as well as those of who didn't grow out of our childhood love of bikes. Help everyone in our community to get some much needed exercise – support this proposal for your kids, your neighbor’s kids, and us adults too!

Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2019
Article comment by: Thom Clark

Stafford did a poor job with the article. It is the same small group of complainers who continue to spread false information and outright lies. Tollgate roads are open to the public and anyone legally can drive in from Hwy 20 and drive around Tollgate without an invitation. The trails are also open just as they always have been. The only way Tollgate could be closed would be for a change in the ByLaws requiring 75% of all property owners to vote and 75% of those to vote yes. Spend a few hours on the Tollgate trails and listen to all the people that love them.

Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Article comment by: Sue Edgerton

Regarding the concern that improving the trail from the high school to Tollgate will bring non- residents into Tollgate, I live there, and know that people do walk, bike, and drive to Tollgate and walk around, and I welcome them. It is a lovely, safe place to walk and I am always happy to look out my window and see people enjoying our beautiful area.

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