The Apple Capital Loop Trail is the crown jewel of our valley and is a treasured asset for our residents and visitors. It provides waterfront recreation for bicyclists, runners, walkers, and park users, and connects all of the Wenatchee area waterfront parks.
In addition to the recreational opportunities, our riverfront trail system also plays an important role in our local economy.
Numerous studies have shown that development of bicycle and pedestrian trails contribute significant economic returns to the communities through which they pass.
Trails and pathways attract new people, influence property values, create business opportunities, promote revitalization efforts, create jobs, increase public revenue, and encourage a thriving tourist industry.
There is little doubt that our riverfront trails contribute these same benefits to our local economy. For example, the addition of the eastside section of the Loop Trail has created a desirable waterfront destination, which in turn has led to increased property values and expanded residential development.
Similarly, on the Wenatchee side, the newly founded Pybus Market has attracted a flurry of commercial businesses to a former riverfront industrial area, and has already begun to influence economic revitalization in the surrounding area.
Many professionals and entrepreneurs have chosen to relocate to our valley, largely due to the recreational opportunities along our waterfront. From medical specialists to recent hires by Crunch Pak (new CEO Scott Sargent) and the Chelan County PUD (general manager Steve Wright), it is evident that this community can attract top talent from around the country.
As a result, we are able to deliver high-quality local products and services that allow our valley to compete internationally and with larger metropolitan areas. This ensures that local dollars are re-invested into our community.
Our trail system also promotes tourism, which leads to fuller hotels and restaurants, increased visitors spending on recreation and entertainment, groceries, and gasoline. A prime example of trail-related tourism is the Wenatchee Marathon, which is run almost entirely on the Loop Trail. In 2013, the event attracted over 1,000 participants, with approximately 750 coming from the west side, Canada, other locations outside of our Valley.
Next year will be the 10th anniversary of the Wenatchee Marathon event, which features a certified marathon, half marathon and 10k runs.
We, as a community, need to continue investing in our riverfront trail system, both for recreational and economic reasons. Currently, we have an opportunity to invest in a trail extension project known as the Rocky Reach Trail, which will add five miles of beautiful riverfront trail to our existing Apple Capital Loop Trail and will connect Lincoln Rock State Park to every other waterfront park in the Wenatchee Valley without crossing a city street.
Approximately $400,000 in community funding is needed by Dec. 31, 2013, to ensure completion of the Rocky Reach Trail. The Complete the Loop Coalition (CTLC), a local non-profit group, is leading the fundraising efforts to secure funding for construction of Phase 2 of the Rocky Reach Trail project.
The Rocky Reach Trail Extension will be built in three phases and will be constructed entirely on public property. Phase 1 and Phase 2 are fully funded by grants from the state of Washington, Washington State Parks, State Department of Transportation, Chelan County PUD, and private donations. Construction for Phase 1 is slated to begin in 2013 and should be complete in early 2014. Phase 1 (the north mile) will connect Lincoln Rock State Park to an overlook south of Rocky Reach Dam. Phase 2 (the south six-tenths of a mile) will connect to the existing Loop Trail by the Odabashian bridge and head north along the Columbia River. Phase 3 (the middle section) will connect Phases 1 and 2.
Community support has been strong so far, especially from the medical community. Drs. Eliot and Tina Scull have generously pledged to give $1 for every $2 that we raise from the general community up to $100,000.
In addition, the Wenatchee Valley Medical Center has pledged to give $1 for every $1 raised by CTLC from the current employees of Central Washington Hospital, Confluence Health and the Wenatchee Valley Medical Center, up to a maximum of $100,000. According to the CLTC website, rockyreachtrail.org, fundraising efforts have raised around $60,000 to date. More donations are needed. Please provide your support to help ensure that the matching grants can be secured.
You can make your tax deductible contribution to: (1) CTLC, P.O. Box 1192, Wenatchee WA, or (2) online at www.rockyreachtrail.org. If you are an employee of any of the three health care organizations mentioned, please identify that fact.
Please review the current donations received and the list of donors at rockyreachtrail.org/donors.html. Your contribution is not only an investment in your future recreational opportunities, but an investment in your community that will benefit our local economy. Thank you for supporting our trails.
Evan McCauley is an attorney with Jeffers, Danielson, Sonn & Aylward, P.S., a Wenatchee law firm.