Port Orchard homeowners fear losing homes to trail

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on November 21, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 21 at 9:05 PM

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- Port Orchard homeowners in the path of a proposed waterfront trail project are boiling mad after learning there’s a chance they could lose their homes.

One of the options is routing the three-mile trail around Mitchell Point, which would mean homeowners like Randy Jones and Frank Rusk would be forced out by eminent domain.

“Over my dead body, I don’t plan on leaving,” said homeowner Randy Jones.

Jones’ home was built in 1919. He now shares it with his partner Frank.

“I’ve been there 35 years. I planned on dying in this home,” said Jones.

If the trail goes near Mitchell Point, the couple’s property could be leveled and turned into a public viewing platform. They plan to fight that possibility.

“Lawyers, court, the whole works. I’ll spend any amount of money to keep my house,” said Rusk.

The couple runs a charter boat business out of their home and uses part of the property as a vacation rental, which brings in up to $2,000 a month.

“I’ll lie down in front of the dozers, I will be that one person,” said Rusk.

But Mayor Tim Matthes says they may be jumping the gun.

“I think the cart got ahead of the horse just a little here,” said Mayor Matthes.

According to Matthes, the city council hired an Edmonds company to do research and talk to 18 property owners about the proposed trail.

“We’re looking at the most economical way of getting this trail in and of course that wouldn’t be purchasing the whole property and demolishing it,” he said.

The mayor admits homeowners like Randy and Frank should have been told about the possibility, but says it’s a long shot.

“It’s probably overreacting to something that probably will never happen,” said Matthes.

It could take up to two years before a decision is made on the future of the trail.

“The whole time we’ll be stressed about it,” said Rusk.
 

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