TID Compromise between a property owner and hikers offered by a citizen!

August 29, 2017

Dear Mary Chilton and Rick McGrath,

I wanted to reach out to you after the article about access to the ditch trail off Grandview appeared in the Daily Tidings and the Mail Tribune.  I am responsible for the article, in that I wrote a letter to the editor in which I stated that I had not been aware that there was private property involved, and that I wanted to continue to be able to access the trail from the parking area on the North end.  John Darling, the reporter, then contacted me, and said he’d like to write a story about this issue.

Rick, you are quoted in the article saying that you’ve wanted to resolve any issues amicably.  That would be my wish as well.  I’m concerned that the threats of charges of trespass and taking photos of license plates do nothing to tamp down feelings about this issue.  In fact, this can only exacerbate the situation.

You say that you’re concerned about liability.  I own rental properties in town, and sometimes I’ve had folks visit my garden on a tour.  For those reasons, I carry an inexpensive umbrella policy, in case anyone should trip or turn an ankle while on my property. I have also been told by a realtor friend that owners of property where there is an easement have no liability for accidents that might occur on that easement.

The other reason you cite for your concerns is that “We don’t know who is going to show up,” since the property is public.  I will tell you that as a single woman, I’ve been walking that trail for years, and there has never been a time when I’ve felt threatened or afraid of any of the other trail walkers.

One thing that Mr. Darling did not say in the article was that it is very difficult and certainly not safe to park elsewhere and walk to the trail.  Grandview is narrow, curving and lacks visibility.  I think there’s a much greater likelihood of someone being hit by a car while walking down Grandview than that someone would twist an ankle in the parking area.

I would hope that you could come to an accommodation with the trail walkers, so that people who have used this access for years can continue to do so.  You may not be aware that in the Spring, the wildflowers on the slopes above the trail are magnificent:  magenta Shooting Stars, blue Hound’s Tongue, orange Fritillaria, and others whose names I do not know.  This is the only trail in town where these are numerous.

I am sure that people would be willing to walk quietly, keep their dogs on leash, and be respectful of your property by keeping it neat.  A neighbor of yours has suggested that you could post a sign, as follows:

Help us keep our private property open for public access to the Ditch Road:

Please leash and pick up after your dogs.

Please report any suspicious activity (such as camping, illegal drug use, overnight parking) to police.

We are not responsible for any personal injury or property damage or loss you may suffer while you are on our property

Thank you

The owners

Hopefully, this can be worked out.

Sincerely, Sherrill Morgan