By Don Iler • News Editor • 

Starrett breaks ranks on trail project

Starrett raised her concerns as commissioners deliberated approval of a letter of support for an application to the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program.

If the trail were accepted, the program staff would help trail supporters develop a master plan, said County Administrator Laura Tschabold. She said that stood to shave $20,000 off of the trail development tab, at no cost to the county.

The board went on to approve the letter of support on a 2-1 vote, with Commissioners Allen Springer and Kathy George voting affirmatively and Starrett dissenting.

The trail would follow a former Union Pacific rail line running north from St. Joseph, mid-way between McMinnville and Lafayette. The line runs past Carlton, Yamhill and Hagg Lake on its way to a point near Gaston.

The project is being championed by Carlton vintner and civic leader Ken Wright, who has assembled a broad cross-section of supporters. He has obtained a sale commitment from the railroad, subject to coming up with the funds. 

Af the meeting, Starrett objected to the $200,000 the county has already committed to the project. With many county roads needing improvement, she said, she wondered if it was in the county's best interest to spend money on a hiking and biking trail.

She also expressed concern about how purchase and development of former railroad right of way could potentially infringe on the rights of adjacent property owners. "I cannot in good conscience commit any more money to the project," she said.

Starrett went on to reference a Supreme Court decision issued earlier this year, Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust et al. v. United States, calling question conversion of former rail lines to trail uses. In the decision, the court found for a Wyoming family that argued once rail right of way was abandoned, it reverted to the original landowner under an 1875 law.

In a phone interview following the meeting, County Counsel Christian Boenisch said the county was aware of the decision and was looking into any possible impact on the proposed Yamhelas Westsider Trail.

The federal government donated land to railroads under several different types of grants over many decades. The issue is whether the 17-mile line the  former rail line the county is seeking to purchase is among those lands affected by the relatively narrow ruling.

Boenisch said that would require title research on both the right of way and adjacent property, as well as the terms under which title to the right of way was conveyed. He said the county was looking to partner with the Oregon Department of Transportation in the endeavor.

Springer rejected Starrett's arguments, saying the project enjoyed broad community support. He said he had not heard any objections himself.

He said statute limits the county to use of gas tax revenue to fund its road-paving program. He said it cannot legally commit general fund money to that purpose, eliminating any conflict between trail and road demands.

Springer went on to note the decision before commissioners Thursday did not commit the county to any further financial outlay. "Before any more money is committed, we will decide about it when the time comes," he said.

Commissioner Kathy George also threw her support behind the trail project. "The transportation easement has been there a long time and property owners knew it was there when they purchased," she said.

George said the trail would provide a place for residents and tourists alike to gather and ride bikes and gather without having to worry about automobile traffic. She said there was a lot of support around the county for that.

"This won't cost the taxpayers anything," she said of the decision before the board Thursday. And she echoed Springer in saying, "I've never had landowners come to me saying they were upset about the project."

In other business, the commissioners approved placement of a "No Through Trucks" signs on Worden Hill Road.

During the commissioners' Monday meeting, Road Director John Phelan told them semis had been traversing the newly-paved road. He said it had not been built to accommodate heavy loads, and that could cause damage.




So even though there is strong, and almost unanimous support throughout the community for the project.....she still does not support the project? I guess I'd have to say this is what I would expect from Starret. Truely an extreme point of view. This goes to show what I've always thought.....She is so out of touch with the citizens of the community on issues. Does she even no where Carlton is?


Can't say I'm surprised. I knew from a simple brief inquiry that she would be horrible for the county, only pursuing her personal desire for attention, and not giving a damn about the rest of the county. Unfortunately, she got a few weak minded people to endorse her, and she had enough money to assault our eyes with her campaign signs everywhere we looked. The less informed among us voted for her thinking she was the better choice because of this. She won by saturation and deception, not because she deserves it, and we will be the ones to suffer. I fear she is only beginning to show her disregard for the county and our interests.


"Truely an extreme point of view." You people make me laugh. She's been in office for a month. She votes against a letter of support for a trail project, and is exposed for her true "disregard for the county and our interests."

Give me a break. I didn't vote for the woman, but this kind of knee-jerk over-reaction is unwarranted.


I disagree. Even a modest attempt to look at where her interests lie will show that the reaction is justified. She does not represent us, only herself, and I worry that she will continue to get worse as she settles into the position.


We can see clearly what the Tea Party influence has done to divide and paralyze our U.S. Congress. Considering her political leanings, what else did the voters of Yamhill County expect when they elected Ms. Starrett? Elections do indeed have consequences.


The rights of property owners? That makes no sense at all. What is she even talking about? Is she suggesting that down the road perhaps the Westsider Trail is going to try and snatch or grab/take private property away from people?Or somehow, someway prevent property owners from doing what they want with their land. A downright dilusional point of view. I'd like to ask her what examples of losing property rights is she refering to? If she even knows. I'd also like to ask how her point of view is helping to improve the local economy?


if anyone bothered to watch the youtube video of the yamelas westsider trail fly over you can see that even 5 million won't cover the cost to build this trail,or the cost for up keep,most of the route has no rail on it,it goes straight through neigborhoods and parking lots,farm land and forested areas,all of this would have to be graded first,trees cut,asphalt layed,wood chips layed,picnic and restroom areas installed,signage installed and who pays for the up keep?it won't be a 5ft.wide trail the easement would be 60ft .Who would keep the bikers and equestrians from going off trail and on to private land because we all know they will.I don't own any of this land I don't even know any of the land owners,but what I do know is when someone says this will only cost x amount of dollars it usually means 10 times that amount,this whole thing smells of greed,who's bank accounts will benefit from this,it's always about money.


@listen up, "this whole thing smells of greed"? Really? From a path? How so?
Its about having something a community can be proud of and enjoy. The path is already there, The only question they leave it to the blackberry briars to overgrow so no one can enjoy it or maybe actually use it for something that a community can enjoy. Seems like a waste to have it just sit there. I guess some people would just rather do nothing. And thats ok. Fortunately most people can see what it can offer for good use and how it would benefit multiple communities.
Everything costs something.


Plenty of good ideas here. In Hawai'i there is a great bike path that goes from Kapolei to Pearl Harbor - at least that's the part I biked, and it's incredible for bikers to use and stay away from traffic. At the same time there were scary and questionable people living in the woods off of this trail. Even if you had a flat you did not stop at certain parts but kept going until you got to a road or some other public place. The path was about 5 feet wide and did not take up any extra room for other utilities.

I see this path as a wonderful thing. I can ride to work without the terrors of Hwy 47 or the back roads between Yamhill and McMinnville. At the same time, I have property along this route and will be subject to people who decide to stray from the path and "enjoy" my pasture. Of course, I have people who drive down my road now and steal my mail, dump their trash or case my house for future theft. With the help of neighbors watching out for each other we're getting a handle on it and if the path goes through I think we can handle the "straying" as well.

jeff k

I appreciate commissioner Starrett bringing to every ones attention not only the
legal action in Wyoming, but also the fact that any monies spent on this project
would definately help with existibg road maintenance costs if applied to roads
and benefit far more people and also help County public works address a long
list of safety improvements already targeted when monies are available. Safety
is a major issue on Couny roads and also a legal requirement.

Also one more point. Maintenance costs these projects like this are never
estimated very close, but prove very costly when tracked accurately.

not a tea party member


Springer said statute limits the county to use of gas tax revenue to fund its road-paving program. He said it cannot legally commit general fund money to that purpose, eliminating any conflict between trail and road demands.

Apparently county road money is not being used for this project so safety is not being altered from what it would be. Is Springer wrong?


Wow. Do landowners want to accept liability for cleanup of historic hazardous spills from derailments as they come to light?
Shouldn’t this be in public hands where there are resources and more transparency to address it?
Owning an abandoned RR right-of-way is not a pleasant windfall, it’s a ticking time-bomb.

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