Community Leaders create vision for future Columbia Slough Trail in Cully

After months of gathering input on the proposed Columbia Slough Trail in the Cully Neighborhood, community leaders and Verde staff presented their vision for the future trail to key stakeholders on Tuesday, January 16.

Since 2012, Verde’s Living Cully Walks program has sought to enhance pedestrian and bicycle access to neighborhood parks and greenspaces and build capacity for community members to educate policymakers about needed infrastructure improvements in Cully.

In 2017, with grant support from Metro, Verde engaged Cully neighbors to develop a vision the Columbia Slough Trail in Cully. This trail is a proposed addition to Portland Metro’s evolving Regional Trail Network, and will stretch from Kelly Point Park to the Sandy River Gorge. In Cully, the future trail will run along Cornfoot Road, connecting west to Whitaker ponds and east towards Cully Park.

Through surveys and community walking events, community members expressed a high interest in building a safe, family friendly trail for walking and biking that connects to amenities and natural areas like Whitaker Ponds, Colwood and Cully Park. Several community members joined Verde on Tuesday to present these findings to staff from Metro, Portland Parks and Recreation, the Port of Portland and Columbia Slough Watershed Council.

However, community members also emphasized that there are many existing safety concerns that make it difficult to access the future trail using active transportation, including a lack of sidewalks and safe pedestrian crosswalks.

“It’s unsafe for moms to walk with their kids to the Columbia Slough,” said Velia Mendoza, one of the community leaders who helped present the community vision on Tuesday.

Community members created a vision board for what they hope to see out of the future Columbia Slough Trail as part of the walking event in November.

Community leader Lucia Llanos offered suggestions for creating safer routes to the Slough, include a bridge that would connect Cully Park and the Colwood Natural area, thereby providing a safe way to cross Columbia Blvd. and the train tracks.

Alan Hipolito, Verde Executive Director, echoed the importance of this idea, while also noting it would be a big undertaking. The bridge would be very expensive, and thus will require community advocacy and partnerships to make it happen, said Alan.

There is community interest in making other improvements to the Colwood natural area, which lies between the proposed trail and Cully Park, to use that area for walking, exercising and environmental education.

Reflecting on the educational programming Verde offered at the Colwood natural area during the September walking event, Lucia emphasized the opportunities Colwood provides for connecting youth to the natural environment.

“We want to take responsibility for the environment and teach our kids to take responsibility for the environment,” said Lucia.

Looking forward, stakeholders in this project will meet to discuss how we can move forward on addressing transportation safety concerns and actualizing the community’s vision.

“It’s really inspiring to see so many community members engage in what they want to see in the future of this trail,” said Robert Spurlock from Metro.

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