Opinion

Rail-with-trail update: the saga continues


Though 4 out of 5 Port of Tillamook Bay (POTB) Commissioners made a huge step in the right direction against POTB Commissioner Jack Mulder this week by tabling the vote to approve the trail lease which threatened all current and new lease agreements within the right-of-way, the saga continues.
In order to obtain a copy of the trail lease with its new amendments and related correspondence, we were forced to submit a public records request through our legal counsel.
Yesterday afternoon (Thursday) we were told it would cost us $9,248.50 for records as far back as July 2016 and they require half down and eight weeks to produce the documents.
Two hours later, we received an email that the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) is pressing on to designate 17 miles of the Nehalem River as a Scenic Waterway, essentially cutting us off from the upper portion of right-of-way we lease. This designation will give the state control of more than a quarter-mile in each direction from the river’s banks including homeowner’s ability to make changes to their land if it has a visual effect on the scenery surrounding the river.
The OPRD Director, Lisa Sumption, is co-chair of the Salmonberry Trail Intergovernmental Agency (STIA) and OPRD District Manager, Dennis Wiley is employed as the STIA project manager. Determined to force us out in order to build a rail-to-trail though both publically claim to support us and a rail-with-trail project.
POTB General Manager, Michele Bradley, forewarned us that Wiley called the Army Corps of Engineers to stir up events from 2014 in which we were never given a violation. We have been more than cooperative with the Army Corps on our track projects and intend to continue having a good working relationship with them.
From the beginning, we have offered our help to STIA in building a rail-with-trail. The only reason we don’t yet have a trail is because of STIA and POTB Commissioner Jack Mulder. They want it their way or no way at all.
During this week’s POTB meeting, we asked the Commissioners why – if they are all in favor of extending the OCSR’s lease – can’t there be language in the trail lease to protect our continued existence?
Commissioner Bob Olsen said, “I can’t answer the question because that’s something I’ve been thinking. I’ve been trying all day long, all afternoon… why can’t we have an amendment that states something like that?”
Sumption responded, “We need some more time to look at the engineering and cost and whether or not that will even be a possibility.”
A rail-with-trail is absolutely feasible and we will continue supporting the POTB in efforts to protect their land and our rights to it. It is clear that STIA is attempting to strong-arm the POTB and OCSR to acquiesce to their persistent ambitions to turn our land into their playland.
Jessica Jung
General Manager
Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad