Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Olympia Approves Pathway to Trail System

Above: Charlotte Olson, 92, walks off the Chehalis Western trail to her residence at The Firs, an independent living facility on Lilly Road in Olympia, on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the Olympia city council approved the purchase of a pedestrian and bicycle access easement from Ensign Road near The Firs.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

Making a dream come true for many seniors, the Olympia city council approved on Tuesday night the purchase of a pedestrian and bicycle access easement near The Firs, an independent living facility on Lilly Road in Olympia.

The city will construct and maintain the pathway which will provide access to and from the Chehalis Western trail system from Ensign Road.  

Installation will require the removal of one tree and some vegetation trimming around a streetlight which will also be installed. 

The project is expected to be completed by September or October.

First reported by Little Hollywood last summer, residents of The Firs had worked for over two years to gain safe access from the edge of the facility’s property to the trail. Many of the residents use canes, walkers, wheelchairs and motorized scooters.

The hazardous connection is from the end of the property’s sidewalk at the end of Ensign Road to a steep, 65 foot dirt path that drops several inches, then dips down into the middle of a drainage ditch, and rises again to meet the trail.

The city had neglected to obtain the right of way when the facility was built in the 1980s and the property owner, Olympia PropCo, LLC, denied the city access.

Negotiations between the City of Olympia and property owners stalled.

Finally, an offer of compensation and a settlement agreement was reached in March. The easement will cost the city $24,000.

Residents of The Firs are thrilled with the news.

Sherman Beverly and Freeman Stickney, along with several other residents, were active in presenting a petition to the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee signed by residents asking the Olympia City Council to take action on the issue.

Beverly and Stickney each served as resident council president and expressed joy upon hearing the news on Wednesday.

Max Rheinhardt, executive director of The Firs, said he is excited for the residents.

“I’m excited that it’s come to fruition,” said Rheinhardt on Wednesday, crediting the efforts of MBK Senior Living, The Firs’ management company. He said the facility will hold a grand opening for the pathway when it is complete.

Above: “It's a nice trail, says Charlotte Olson, 92, as she comes off the Chehalis Western Trail, navigates the steep dirt path, and steps onto the sidewalk at the end of Ensign Road.

Charlotte Olson, 92, was seen walking off the Chehalis Western trail on Wednesday to her residence at The Firs. Olson is excited about the completion of the pathway project. With the assistance of a cane, she takes a half hour walk on the trail nearly every day and enjoys seeing the dogs and bicycles. 

“You gotta keep moving!” she said as she entered The Firs.

Keith Edgerton works across the street from The Firs as the Providence St. Peter Hospital Sustainability Coordinator. He is also the hospital’s employee transportation coordinator as part of its commute trip reduction program.

Coincidentally, and unbeknownst to the residents of The Firs at the time, a neighborhood pathway application to the city had been independently written and submitted in mid-2015 by Edgerton, on behalf of the Woodland Trail Greenway Association.

“We are very excited about this new trail connection to Ensign Road from the Chehalis Western Trail,” said Edgerton.

“We offer incentives for alternative forms of transportation commuters and have bike lockers, bike cages and bike racks located around our campus so we hope this new trail connection will make it easier and more enticing for employees and the public to ride their bike to the hospital. 

“Our hospital is committed to improving the quality of life for our community so we are just as excited for this new ADA accessible access to the trail for all of the retired folks and hope they feel more comfortable accessing the trail safely after the new trail connection is installed. 

“Providence St. Peter Hospital is very appreciative of The Firs ownership for granting an easement to the city of Olympia to allow this trail connection to be built,” said Edgerton.

The Chehalis Western trail system offers 56 miles of paved, uninterrupted trails, allowing access to regional businesses, homes, work, and recreational activities.

To read Little Hollywoods July 31, 2017 story, Seniors Denied Safe Access to Trail System, go to

1 comment:

  1. Such great news! It was a HUGE effort to get my mom’s wheelchair through that ditch and up the other side, just so she could see that beautiful frog pond.