The Seattle City Council Monday approved a $100,000 grant to go forward with construction of a mountain bike trail in the Cheasty Greenspace on the east slope of Beacon Hill, but put several conditions on the money.
Council members specified that they and not the Parks Department would give final approval for the project. The council also asked the department to develop policies for appropriate uses of the city’s greenspaces and asked for quarterly reports on the development of the bike-trail plans.
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen said any greenspace-use policy should include undisturbed protection of wildlife habitat, buffers between different uses such as residential and commercial and protection of critical areas such as steep slopes. He noted that the city purchased many of its greenspaces because the land was prone to slides and unsafe for development.
Some neighbors and wildlife advocates across the city want Cheasty and other natural areas to remain undisturbed. They argue that only about 15 percent of Seattle’s parkland is undeveloped compared with more than 50 percent for San Francisco and about 75 percent for Portland, according to the Trust for Public Land, although the Trust includes bicycling, in addition to walking and running, as uses in natural areas
Advocates of the bike trail say the woods are overgrown with invasive species. They’ve leveraged thousands of volunteer hours to restore the woods and have proposed building a mile-and-a-half-long bike trail around the perimeter of the greenspace with a skills-segment crossing through the woods at the northern end.
The Department of Neighborhood grant would go toward construction of the trail. The Parks Board of Commissioners approved as a three-year pilot project in January. Advocates plan to raise the entire $750,000 estimated cost. The project would be the first mountain bike trail in a Seattle city park.
The Parks Department will also form a project advisory team made up of interested residents to help review and guide planning for the trail. People interested in applying to serve on the team should submit an application available at http://cosparkways.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Cheasty-PAT-application-form-REVISED1.pdf.