City fences off closed section of Renaissance Trail

Users had been skirting barriers on waterfront path, trespassing on private land

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 
photoThe 6-foot-high fencing is temporary, like fences at construction sites, and is being rented by the city for about $3,000 a year.

(/The Columbian)

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The waterfront trail near Tidewater Cove remains closed due to last winter's washout. What should be done?

  • The city should make it a priority and repair it ASAP. Take the money from the general fund if need be. 21%
  • The trail should remain closed until it makes its way to the top of the parks priority list. 30%
  • The trail should be repaired and the bill sent to the Tidewater Cove condo owners, who live the closest and benefit the most. 18%
  • Leave the taxpayers out of it. The trail should remain closed until some donor or private group agrees to pay for the repairs. 31%

238 total votes.

To keep rebellious Renaissance Trail users from skirting barriers aimed at preventing them from using an unstable section of the popular path near Wintler Park, Vancouver has beefed up security.

About 2,000 feet — more than one-third of a mile — of six-foot-tall temporary fencing went in along the path Tuesday, aimed at preventing people from trespassing on private property to use the condemned trail rather than make the short detour to Columbia Way.

“Given the attractive nature of the trail and the length of time we anticipate to get design and permitting done, the fencing is fairly robust,” City Manager Eric Holmes wrote in an email memo to the city council. “The intent here is to assure safety of the public, as well as protect abutting property as we pursue a permanent solution.”

But what that permanent solution could be isn’t clear.

Geotechnical work and initial design will cost between $100,000 and $200,000, parks officials estimated. Construction would be more than that, and the city lacks the money to complete the repairs without pulling it from another department or finding an outside way to pay. The trail has been closed since June, when floodwaters eroded the banks supporting the path. City leaders say they don’t know when repairs would be complete.

The Renaissance Trail is among the most

heavily used in Clark County, drawing thousands to walk, run and bike along the Columbia River from the Interstate 5 bridge east to Wintler Park. The land was donated for a path, but Vancouver owns and maintains the concrete trail.

Paul Schwabe, who lives in the Tidewater Cove Condominiums and can see people blowing off the closure signs from his living room window, said Tuesday he was relieved to hear more was being done to keep people out. Tidewater Cove lies at the west end of the closed portion; an office building abuts the east end of the closure.

“I wish I was there to witness all this,” he said from vacation on the East Coast. “I think a lot of people are very appreciative.”

The fencing, which Vancouver is renting from a private company, will cost $1.65 per foot annually, or an estimated $3,000 for the next 12 months, a public works spokeswoman said.