By editorial board • 

Trail won’t go anywhere  without communication

“There seems to be considerable discord between the town, or rather some factions of the town, and the surrounding country. This should be adjusted. Get together. Harmony is what we want, and harmony we must have in order to reap the best results.”

Those words are from then-mayor Arthur McPhillips in his December 1911 address to the McMinnville City Council. It suggests the more things change, the more they stay the same, as his words remain appropriate more than a century later.

In this case, we are referring to the proposed Yamhelas Westsider Trail, which has created a yawning urban/rural divide, reflected in sharp division among the county commissioners.  

The proposed foot and bike path would wind through Carlton on its way from McMinnville to Gaston. It would follow former Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way.
Commissioner Mary Starrett continues to voice staunch opposition. Commissioners Rick Olson and Stan Primozich are committed to appeasing affected farmers and finding a way to move forward.

Regardless of which faction one sides with, the words Olson sounded earlier this month deserve commendation. The newest commissioner made a case for improved, saying, “I would not feel comfortable or agreeable if the county and my fellow commissioners do not provide a public forum as part of the formal process for the public to provide input regarding the potential impacts of a trail and a viable process be put in place to conduct the analysis,” he said. “This is critical to ensure all interested parties both for and against the trail have a legal process to voice their support or opposition.”

Transparency is an assurance almost every elective hopeful pledges during campaign season. But the county has only taken baby steps so far.

Olson, who previously served as mayor of McMinnville, called for the creation of a project web page, so anyone can review plans, costs, assessments, developments, meeting minutes and other elements.

As it happens, the county need look no further than Olson’s previous post for an example worth emulating. City residents seeking information on projects being funded out of a recently approved street bond will find a full accounting at

Posting information on the Internet is not a cure-all. But in this age, it can certainly help get in front of potential conflicts and delays. 

We continue to support the trail, as long as impacts can be properly mitigated.

Foes complain the trial would enrich one of its main proponents, wine industry leader Ken Wright of Carlton, at their expense. They have even conjured up specters of inebriated cyclists peddling around with cases of wine.

In fact, cycle tourism has become a major source of revenue for rural towns in Oregon, benefiting a wide array of interests. The Yamhelas Trail could be a gem, highlighting small town charm and rural beauty that make our region one of the most desirable anywhere to both live and visit.

The trick is bringing the competing sides into some semblance of the harmony Mayor McPhillips requested more than a century ago.



Hey guys!
I've been asking for a public hearing on the Yamhales Westsider Trail for 3 years. I've been shot down every time I proposed it. I'm "staunchly" opposed to the project because no one can tell me 1) How much it's going to cost, 2) What exactly it's supposed to be 3) How we're going to pay for it once it becomes the county's liability and 4) How this is going to impact farmers.
I have concerns about how our already-strapped sheriff's department is going to cover this area of rural patrol and how our already- overburdened Public Works Dept is going to maintain it. Why the on-going disrespect for asking those questions?
Just asking.

All the best,
Mary Starrett,
Yamhill County Commissioner


I would like to see you publish some hard numbers and facts on how many actual tourism dollars will be realized by Yamhill county businesses with a trail from gun club road, with no trail head, to cove orchard, also with no trail head. You stated the proposed trail will run from McMinnville to Gaston instead of gun club road to cove orchard. The railroad isn't giving up the ROW south of gun club road and private ownership of the ROW is blocking the trail to the North. You support the trail and like to leave out details that paint the real picture of what is happening.


What will be the cost of acquiring the privately owned sections of the ROW in Carlton? There are 2 separate owners that will need to be dealt with before the trail can go through the town. I'm willing to bet it won't be free! Have you ever mentioned the trail does not run through the town of Yamhill, how will the tourism benefit Yamhill? How much tourism do you think there would have been in the last 5 months with 40 plus inches of rain. How will homeless campers be dealt with? How much does bicycle tourism generate versus agriculture? I don't believe sacrificing even 1 farmers ability to make a living is worth any bike path. The farmers that live and farm here contribute to our economy, schools, and tax base year round, not just buying some mineral water 1 weekend during the summer. I ask why if this trail is so lucrative why hasn't a private entity tried to buy it? Easy answer it is a never ending money pit that starts nowhere and ends nowhere. We should question why the county should have to buy the segmented ROW for millions and millions of dollars (which the county won't disclose the purchase price even though this is supposedly a transparent project) when the UPRR should donate to eliminate their tax liability and potential hazardous contamination of the land. This may or may not be a problem but the the county has not done an EPA study. Please post some facts and numbers.


I sure hope this gets built soon, I can't wait to ride my bicycle away from vehicle traffic.


Totally agree with you Nvs--both comments


Primozich refuses to discuss farm impacts. I have been asking him for the ORS215.296 impact study since April of 2015. Primozich refuses to let me see it because there is none. County Council Todd Sadlo and Ken Friday said on September 6th 2016 to my face in a private meeting that "this is only hypothetically a bicycle path" and what they really want is, exact quote: "a commuter line to get workers to Washington County." I was so surprised so in a gasp I asked if I could quote them saying that. Attorney Todd Sadlo got very defensive and said "If you just came here for sound bits then I am not talking to you anymore." Then meeting pretty much got uglier and uglier. Sadlo said "If you don't like it then just sue us."


so what it really is,is an underground railroad for illegal farmworkers between counties in the state,funded by taxpayers,and benefited by agricultural and vineyard corporate thieves!a commuter line to get workers to washington county? taxpayer funded underground railroad for illegals to commute between counties to work illegally,and we get to pay for it!WHERE'S THE BIKE PATH?SHUT THIS DOWN NOW!


I have been following all the posts and most of the comments and questions are well founded by those posting. As the new Commissioner for Yamhill County I have been and will continue to play an active part in the trail discussions. That being said, I have been working with Yamhill County's IT and Adminisrative department in the design of a Trails project website that will contain information regarding the Trailast including grants, costs, maps, etc. In addition I am working on a Community Dialogue meeting for the first week in June where all county residents will be able to ask questions and provide comments. Stay tuned for details and watch the papers for details as the time grows closer. In addition if you have specific questions please feel free to send me an email via the county's website and I will make all attempts to either answer your question or find you the answers in a timely fashion.

Richard L. 'RICK' Olson
Yamhill County Commissioner


It is nice to see commissioners Starrett and Olson dialogue with the public. Commissioner Primzitch's lack of communication solidifies his lack of knowledge of the project along with perpetuating the notion of non transparency that a lot people have questioned. Just because Primozitch and Ken Wright were the county representative's to ODOT funding meetings and forgot to tell the ODOT board the agricultural community was opposed to the trail doesn't mean that they had ulterior motives. They also forgot to tell the community they could attend those meetings and express their opposition. Too much of this project has been behind closed doors and it stinks!

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