There continues to be discussion about a multimodal pathway system to connect neighboring communities to Chelan, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Wenatchee, and East Wenatchee.  

The vision is for an expanded network of pathways for non-motorized travel between the cities and towns. 

Chelan County Commissioner Shon Smith says there'll be challenges to constructing the pathway to Leavenworth. 

"It will be an interesting project as it moves forward through the discovery process to get through that upper valley," said Smith. "It's not a very easy area to connect." 

Smith recently attended a meeting in the upper valley about the pathway project, which he discussed at a public meeting of county commissioners on Monday. 

He said tree farmers attending the meeting expressed concerns about disruptions a pathway would cause to their operations. 

Smith says he assured them their land would never be seized without their approval. 

"Of course, I just reassured them that it would never be a domain issue," said Smith. "We could never condemn. We would never say you are going to do this. This is going to be, 'Are you a willing seller because we have a willing buyer." 

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According to Smith, state Representative Keith Goehner of Dryden attended the meeting as an area tree farmer who was worried about the impact the pathways plan would have on his business. 

Smith said Chelan County Natural Resources Director Mike Kaputa took a recently hired consulting firm for the project on a tour of an irrigational canal that would potentially be a pathway. 

An agricultural sprayer was in operation at the time, which Smith said was a good demonstration for the consulting firm of some of the challenges facing the pathway plan. The sprayer was shooting at 50 feet in all directions. 

Commissioner Kevin Overbay told fellow commissioners during their Monday meeting that he also met with the consulting firm, and reiterated the county's position that it would not invoke eminent domain to take over land owned by tree farmers. 

The Chelan Douglas Transportation Council has raised $1.3 million for the design phase of the Pathways plan. 

The financing for the design work is largely coming from $900,000 in federal money which is managed by the state Department of Transportation. That funding is being coupled with money from Chelan County and local cities including Leavenworth, Cashmere, Wenatchee, and Rock Island. 

The project includes paved walking and biking pathways in four corridors, which are generally described as:  

  • The SR 28 corridor between East Wenatchee and Rock Island;  
  • The Malaga Alcoa Highway corridor between Wenatchee and Malaga;  
  • The Upper Wenatchee River Valley between Wenatchee and Leavenworth; and  
  • The SR 150 corridor between Chelan and Manson.   

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