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Bridge of Flowers proposed for Haller Bridge
With the adoption of a new name recently, the Centennial Trail Coalition of Snohomish County has launched a new campaign.
They want to make the Haller Bridge trestle on the north edge of Arlington into a Bridge of Flowers.
"I'm back at it again," said Beth Hill, a member of the board who represents equestrians, but who also rides bikes. She lives along the trail in northeast Marysville.
"I am on a new mission now," she said. Hill wants to transform the old rusted trestle into a Bridge of Flowers. Her last project was to find a way to get horses through the center of Arlington. She has accepted the fact that it's not feasible and is not going to happen. Since there will be no horses on the bridge, then why not flowers, she asked.
She said, she got the idea from Duane Weston.
A representative for adjacent property owners on the trail coalition's board of directors for the past few years, Duane Weston said he brought the idea of a Bridge of Flowers to the group several years ago.
"I guess it's my fault," Weston chuckled.
He and his wife, Anne Marie Weston saw the original "Bridge of Flowers" in Shellburne, Mass. in 2005.
"We attended a conference in Massachusetts and then went site seeing," Duane Weston said, adding they read about the bridge in a Triple A guide and decided to go see it in the Berkshires.
"It was just so beautiful to walk among the flowers," Anne Marie Weston said.
"It was a spectacular floral display built on an old concrete bridge in a town about the size of Arlington," Duane Weston said. The bridge was built by the town's garden club in 1923 and flourishes to this day, Weston said.
"We were there in the fall, and even then there were more than 100 people from all over the place enjoying the bridge."
Weston said they collect enough donations each year to pay for a full-time gardener.
When Weston first presented the idea, officials were still trying to figure out a way to get horses across the trestle.
"Since then, Snohomish County Parks and the city of Arlington have determined that horses will not be using the bridge, so the flowers are back on the table," Weston said. The plan is to provide horse trailer parking north of the bridge, so equestrians can ride north to Skagit County and northeast to Darrington on the Whitehorse Trail.
So Hill is running with the flower idea. She presented the Bridge of Flowers to Arlington City Council Monday, Aug. 11 at a workshop meeting and Council members seemed excited, Hill said.
"They are going to discuss it and vote for an endorsement at the Aug. 18 meeting," she said. She does not expect them to provide money at this point; she simply wants to hear them say they are supportive.
City Councilman Graham Smith said he likes the idea.
"It looks good to me," he said.
"I think it would be a great tourist attraction," Weston said.
"It's not only for trail users, but it goes with all the art and attractions that Arlington is putting along the trail." Weston said that Shellburne's Bridge of Flowers did a lot for that town's economy and he believes it would be good for Arlington too.
"Now days we could develop a sophisticated watering system so it would not require a full time gardener," he said.
A new name
The Trail Coalition discussed the concept at its recent membership meeting on Aug. 19. At the same time, they are also recruiting support and new members for a subcommittee to work on behalf of the Whitehorse Trail from Arlington to Darrington.
Formerly known as the Snohomish-Arlington Trail Coalition, the nonprofit organization was founded in the early 1980s to advocate for the completion of a trail on the rail corridor between Snohomish and Arlington. That trail is now mostly complete, except for the gap from 152nd to 172nd along 67th Avenue and the another gap from Cemetery Road into downtown Arlington.
Snohomish County Parks is currently designing and applying for permits for the second phase of the trail, from Arlington north to the Skagit County line.
"We debated about starting a separate coalition for the Whitehorse Trail, but decided it makes more sense to work together," said the president of the coalition, Bea Randall.
"We already presented the Bridge of Flowers idea to the city's Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission and we'll be going to the Arlington Garden Club.