ARLINGTON — The northernmost end of the Centennial Trail in Snohomish County was officially opened nearly 30 years after the Pathfinders Task Force first met to turn an abandoned railroad line into a community trail system that now spans 30 miles.
John Wynne resided in Lake Stevens when he joined the efforts to pave the trail, which were picked up by the Snohomish-Arlington Trail Coalition. Although he now lives in Alaska, he came down from Juneau to take part in the dedication ceremony for the Nakashima Heritage Barn and North Trailhead of the Centennial Trail on Saturday, Nov. 3.
“The Pathfinders Task Force was only able to go so far, because the Snohomish County Council at the time wasn’t listening,” Wynne said. “That’s why we formed the Snohomish-Arlington Trail Coalition.”
Wynne credited many individuals and agencies with helping carry on the work on the Centennial Trail, and noted that both he and Arlington resident Bea Randall are former chairs of the Trail Coalition, but Randall simply said of her role that “this was a marathon run and I was privileged to carry it in the middle.”
Snohomish County Parks Director Tom Teigen served as the emcee for the morning’s program, introducing not only Wynne but also Beth Hill, one of the original “Housewives from Hell,” so named by former Snohomish County Executive Willis Tucker, who addressed the crowd on horseback.
“It took the citizens to see the potential here,” said Hill, who not only shared credit for pushing the issue of the trail with Wynne, but also echoed Wynne’s praise for his fellow Pathfinders Task Force member Betty Bauer. “We helped raise awareness and money and talked with legislators. We would not let this go until it was finished.”
Hill also thanked the Nakashima family for donating their farmland for the trailhead and parking.
“I grew up in the Fife Valley, which had a great Japanese community,” Hill said. “A lot of them were removed from their homes during World War II and not compensated for it, which you don’t hear about as much in the history books, so it’s appropriate that this trailhead should be named after the Nakashima family.”
Former Snohomish County Council member Ross Kane praised a number of fellow elected and government officials, both past and present, for their roles in bringing the Centennial Trail closer to completion, and pointed out that the real estate excise tax helped fund the project, “so everybody who bought and sold a house in this county in the 1990s, thank you,” he laughed.
Teigen expressed his gratitude to Connie Reckord of MacLeod Reckord for their landscape architecture and design services, former King County official Tom Exton for his expertise on developing trail systems, and the Tulalip and Stillaguamish tribes for working with Snohomish County Parks and Recreation to ensure that any cultural artifacts that were unearthed during excavations were handled appropriately.
“A mile of road costs between $7 million to $8 million to lay down now,” Teigen said. “A mile of trail costs $1 million, and when you include the costs of mitigating wetlands and the like, that price tag grows exponentially.”
Teigen estimated that Exton was paid approximately $7,000 for his advice, but in return, yielded “$150,000 worth of ideas that we can use for the next 30 years.”
Rick Schranek did double-duty, speaking as both the current chair of the Centennial Trail Coalition and the vice president of the B.I.K.E.S. Club of Snohomish County.
“I’m living proof that anyone can ride a bike, but it’s not much fun to do it with cars and trucks driving by,” Schranek said. “I hope Arlington will finish the last section of this trail next year, and I hope we’ve lit a fire that will see Skagit County continuing this trail.”
Schranek invited community members to attend the Centennial Trail Coalition’s next meeting on Thursday, Nov. 15, from 6:30-8 p.m. in the Oso Fire Hall, located at 21824 State Route 530 NE in Arlington.
The Nakashima Heritage Barn and North Trailhead of the Centennial Trail are located at 32328 Highway 9, north of Arlington.