Money may be found for missing link in Foothills trail | Pierce County

Those who enjoy the Foothills Trail – whether out on a serious run or simply strolling with the family pooch – apparently have reason to celebrate.

News out of Tacoma last week was that Pierce County government is looking at a supplemental budget request that would provide funds for the purchase of a “missing link” in the popular trail. Further, it was acknowledged that both the buyers and seller have agreed on terms.

A momentary sticking point is that not all the needed funds are readily available.

The Foothills Trail is a well-used amenity, stretching from Puyallup through Orting and east to Dwight Partin’s South Prairie Creek RV Park. There also are paved portions of the trail in Buckley and Enumclaw. When fully built out, the trail would stretch nearly 30 miles.

Partin’s growing RV enterprise creates the most visible void in the existing trail system and, for more than a decade, trail boosters and government officials have considered ways to fill the missing piece. Two recent developments have things pointing in a positive direction.

Late last year, members of the Pierce County Council voted to authorize the beginning of condemnation proceedings – the legal taking of personal property for the community good. That option still exists, even though it’s not favored.

More promising was last week’s news that County Executive Pat Mc Carthy submitted a supplemental budget that includes more than $430,000 for the purchase of nearly 1.4 acres of Partin’s property.

County Councilman Dan Roach, who represents east Pierce County on the council, confirmed this week that McCarthy’s request is headed in the right direction. The money, he said, includes $130,000 from park reserves and a $300,000 loan from one county department to another – a loan that will have to be repaid.

“The money will be there, I’m pretty confident abut that,” Roach said.

Thrilled with the news is Buckley Mayor Pat Johnson, who also serves as vice president of the Foothills Rails-To-Trails Coalition. Aside from being a trail booster, Johnson is excited about the potential upside to her community. Orting businesses, she points out, benefit greatly from trail users who come to town.

The transaction, if completed, would give the county a southerly swath of land and cause Partin to relocate some of his existing RV sites.

While last week’s news was viewed as promising, nothing will be immediately finalized. The County Council will first hear the supplemental budget requests during an April 7 meeting; committee hearings likely will be slated and final action is not anticipated for several weeks.

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