Erika and Viktor Met live in a townhouse next to the proposed Larson Creek Trail. The pedestrian trail will cross in front of their deck as it winds from the Bear Creek Greenway to North Phoenix Road. - Bob Pennell

Neighbors worry about pedestrian trail impact

An east Medford neighborhood is worried about a proposed pedestrian trail that would run only a few feet from decks that overlook the golf course at the Rogue Valley Manor.

"It's a safety issue," said Erika Met, 72, who lives in one of the 12 townhouses that abut the proposed route for the Larson Creek Trail.

The trail is proposed between her deck and an 8-foot-tall chain link fence located 10 to 12 feet from her back deck.

Neighbors are concerned the trail could bring some of the problems that have plagued the Bear Creek Greenway, such as vandalism and illegal camping.

"It will be a Guantanamo Northwest or a penal colony," said Viktor Met, her 85-year-old husband.

The Mets and 11 other townhouse owners on Hilldale Street have property lines that extend only a couple of feet past their decks into a grassy area where the proposed pedestrian trail would run. It would connect the Bear Creek Greenway with North Phoenix Road.

The city hasn't started the Larson Creek Trail, but the Mets' property is located on the second leg of the project, which is being planned by the city.

The first leg, from the Bear Creek Greenway to Ellendale Road, got the go-ahead from the City Council Thursday.

The council gave city officials permission to begin eminent domain proceedings against three properties owned by Pacific Retirement Services and the Rogue Valley Manor.

The three parcels required for the bike path are located along Hospitality Way. The city needs rights of way through the properties, estimating the value of the easements at $70,000.

Cory Crebbin, director of Medford Public Works, said the city has qualified for a $500,000 federal grant for the first phase of the path.

As a result of the grant process, the city is required to start eminent domain proceedings, Crebbin said. That doesn't mean they'll have to take any drastic action.

Crebbin told the City Council that the city was required to take the action in order to obtain federal funding.

"This is not saying we're going to use condemnation," he said.

On a majority of other projects, the city has been able to avoid actual condemnation actions and arrive at a fair market value for a property, he said.

Crebbin said the city is already looking at securing additional funding to extend the trail system past Ellendale Drive, where it will wind around the Manor golf course and past the townhouses, which are for residents aged 55 and older.

"The bike path would be directly on our back porches," said Judy Kimmons, another resident of the townhouses.

Councilor Chris Corcoran said the easement was in existence since the townhouses were built in the 1990s.

"That's why there are zero lot lines," he said.

The council asked staff to look at ways to keep the path away from the townhouses, though it would likely require approval from the Manor, which owns the golf course property to the south.

Erika Met said she hopes the city decides to move the trail 10 or more feet away from the property line rather than cram it up against her deck.

"That would be ideal," she said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.

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