A landowner with a vision of seeing a hiking trail along Dry Creek wants the city of Bingen to help make the new trail possible.
Bingen resident Wil Schuemann envisions a land swap that would offer benefits for all the parties involved. Schuemann is calling for the city to obtain ownership or secure permission to use land adjacent to Dry Creek for a hiking trail, which could be linked to Daubenspeck Park and other trails along "Hospital Hill" behind Skyline Hospital.
Included in the process would be using a portion of Schuemann's property as a parking area to support the hiking trail.
Schuemann, who offered to pay the legal and appraisal fees related to a property exchange, said he is disappointed in the city's slow response to the concept, which he has brought before the Bingen City Council several times since April.
"My original goal was to swap properties so the city could have a place for parking for a hiking trail," Schuemann said. "I thought the council members would be excited about creating a new hiking trail for Bingen. But they're not."
The transaction would also have to involve another private landowner, Bonnie Kimbro, who owns property along Dry Creek. Last week, however, Mayor Brian Prigel said he had not yet contacted Kimbro about the proposal.
Prigel suggested that members of the council could walk the site under consideration to give councilors a clearer idea of what is being proposed by Schuemann.
"Is this land swap something we want to pursue at this point?" Prigel asked the council members during a recent council meeting.
Bingen council member Terry Trantow said he saw possible benefits to the trade.
"I'd like to see us get that 60-foot strip back along Dry Creek," Trantow said. "I've looked at it on the ground. We should take the opportunity to pursue this."
During the June 6 council meeting, councilor Betty Barnes suggested that the idea be tabled.
"I'd like to know the financial values of the land involved before we make a decision," Barnes explained. "Who will pay for the appraisal?"
"I will," Schuemann responded.
Trantow suggested that the motion to table the issue be amended.
"I'd like to direct [Mayor Prigel] to make contact and speak with Bonnie Kimbro and let her know what we're trying to do with this property," Trantow said.
After the meeting, Mayor Prigel expressed skepticism with the concept of the land swap.
"He's requesting that we ask someone to give us land for free to create a park," Prigel said.
Prigel added that he wasn't sure how Schuemann would benefit from the proposed land transaction.
"We can't figure it out, and his reasons keep changing all the time," Prigel said.
Last week, council member Laura Mann said she is open to consider the idea, but noted that the plans have changed since they were first presented to the council in April.
"I was more interested when the land sizes were the same," Mann said. "Now it's a land plus money deal. There are a lot of issues there."
However, Mann pointed out that she supports Schuemann's vision of having more public access to the Dry Creek area.
"He really would like a park there at Dry Creek. That would be lovely," Mann commented.
Prigel planned to review a draft of a letter to Kimbro, but as of June 16, the letter had not yet been sent.
Schuemann said he thought the idea of sending a letter was an ineffective response to his idea.
"I think the idea of a letter was specifically designed by Brian [Prigel] to be sure nothing happens," Schuemann said. "We don't usually think of people in government wanting to do new things, so I'm trying to be realistic about what will happen. I asked the wrong people to take the lead, and will probably have to look for someone else."