Allen: No reason to give up on Yamhelas Westsider Trail

##Janice Allen
##Janice Allen

About the writerJanice Allen is a direct service professional with MV Advancements in McMinnville. She has previously served as associate director of public relations at George Fox University, assistant director of publications at Lewis & Clark College and features editor at the Newberg Graphic.

Don’t let Mary Starrett fool you about the Yamhelas trail.

In a March 29 New-Register opinion piece, Yamhill County Commissioner Mary Starrett says it would cost $70,000 to put a trail-funding measure on a ballot to let voters decide if they want to resurrect the Yamhelas Westsider Trail.

But that’s for a special election. There is no cost to add a measure to a ballot already going out for a primary or general election.

Mary says the trail would violate land use laws. Exactly what land-use laws? The goal is simply to convert an abandoned railroad right-of-way through Carlton and Yamhill into a lovely 12-mile trail.

Yamhill County purchased the corridor from the Union Pacific Railroad, except for three parcels that are now in private ownership. For two of these three parcels, the owners have agreed to allow trail access in various forms, such as by donation to the county or granting an easement, and there is a potential work-around through the Wapato National Wildlife Refuge for the third privately owned property.

Mary worries about the cost of the project, which she calls an unfunded mandate. But it is not an unfunded mandate.

The state is not mandating the building of the trail. This is an independent project.

Yamhill County citizens can vote to pass or not pass a bond for the trail. If voters vote no, organizers can focus on gathering public and private funding.

Newberg’s Chehalem Cultural Center is a good example.

When taxpayers voted no twice on bonds to renovate an old school building, organizers took the long road. They gathered public and private donations.

After more than 20 years, the project is almost complete. It is now a beautiful downtown centerpiece.

It is confusing when Mary bemoans costs, because it is she and fellow commissioner Lindsay Berschauer who, in 2020, killed the trail even though construction had already begun. That required returning hefty private donations and a $1.5 million grant to the state.

They killed it even though an online petition in June of 2021 gathered more than 3,200 signatures in favor of the trail.

Mary’s last two arguments are just silly.

She says the Oregon Supreme Court recently created significant new legal liability for government recreation areas, including public trails.

So what? This applies to all county land for all recreation. What’s the county going to do? Shut down all parks?

Besides, cities and counties have long carried insurance for lawsuits. And earlier this year, the state Legislature adopted a measure largely eliminating the threat.

Finally, she says the trail could bring Portland’s light rail system to Yamhill County. Actually, a trail would prevent rail use. If the abandoned railroad right-of-way was dedicated to trail use, it could not be changed back. Besides, all but a few stray remnants of track have been removed.

It takes time and persistence to gather enough signatures to get a measure on a ballot. Then there’s the matter of getting enough votes. How is a grassroots, pro-trail campaign supposed to win against a big money anti-trail campaign?

But then, what do Yamhill County citizens have to lose? In the face of the unalterable power of Lindsay and Mary, why not try?

What if everybody turned up at the polls to bring back the beautiful trail for everyone to enjoy? Let’s get a measure on the ballot and go to the polls to take back the Westsider Trail.


Chris H

Fully agree - Mary and Lindsay do not let the truth get in the way of their crusade to prevent improving the lives of their constituents.

We badly need Bubba to replace Lindsay. Please vote.


3 reasons you should NOT vote for Lindsay:
1. Lindsay's campaign is funded by the George Family, owners of one of the largest hazelnut processing companies in the country. Nothing wrong with that. Where it becomes very, very wrong is when she represents only the big money that helped get her get elected and blatantly ignores the wishes of the citizen majority.
2. Here's one example of how Lindsay serves her wealthy farmer campaign supporters and ignores pure and simple betterment for citizens: In 2020 Lindsay killed the Yamhelas Westsider Trail, even though construction had already begun and it meant returning hefty private donations and a $1.5 million grant to the state. She killed it because her farmer supporters are against having regular people (ugh!) sully "their" lovely county. She killed it even though an online petition in June of 2021 gathered more than 3,200 signatures in favor of the trail.
3. Lindsay appointed six candidates with jaw-dropping conflicts of and lack of qualifications to the county parks advisory board. One of them is her husband. One of them is Celine McCarthy. McCarthy and her husband, Greg, who was convicted in federal court last year of financial fraud, were among the largest campaign finance donors to Lindsay.
4. There are many more examples of this politician's wily undertakings. You'll find them in Mac's News-Register newspaper. Keep informed. Everybody rise up and vote for Bubba King.


Let the people decide. Let’s have a vote on the Yamhelas Westside Trail!

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