After hearing concerns from the public, Teton County commissioners unlocked $6,000 to plow the Highway 22 pathway from Emily’s Pond to the Y-intersection.
Plowing that section will link trails between the West Bank and Jackson, giving wintertime pathway users a way to get to and from town.
Brian Schilling, Teton County’s pathways and trails coordinator, is happy about the decision.
“I’m psyched to have it plowed, because I do occasionally use it,” he said, noting that it also provides kids who live in Skyline Ranch and other western neighborhoods another way to get to school.
Parks and Rec will also clear the path stretching from Tribal Trail Road to Highway 22, but the segment connecting to Teton Science Schools will not be plowed.
The Teton County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to spend $6,000 to plow the Highway 22 pathway. That decision marked a change in course after Teton County/Jackson Parks and Recreation opted out of plowing it due, in part, to budget constraints. Wintertime pathway users lobbied commissioners to spend the money.
“We are asking you to please consider keeping the pathway along Highway 22, as well as its connecting pathways ... plowed and open,” Hoback Sports General Manager Matt Haviland wrote in a letter to commissioners. “It’s the only safe way for non-motorized users to travel between the town of Jackson and the West Bank during the winter months.”
The $6,000 will come from an account that collects money from a 1% “transfer fee” on real estate resales in Shooting Star, the Teton Village golf club. Funds are split 90-10 between START and pathways, which generally spends its share on maintenance and special projects between Teton Village and Jackson. The levy has collected $793,100 since July.
Katherine Dowson, executive director of Friends of Pathways, expressed concern at Tuesday’s meeting when she heard that the county had found a funding source for plowing the Highway 22 path after her organization had coughed up $6,000 for grooming in Cache Creek to backfill Parks and Rec’s budget shortfall.
But Schilling told the Jackson Hole Daily that funds from the levy in question can be used only for projects between Teton Village and Jackson, excluding the Cache Creek area.
The $6,000 will be used to extend a contract with Yellow Iron Excavating and Waste Removal, which the county pays to plow on the West Bank, to cover the more easterly pathway.
Clearing the route could continue to be discussed going forward. The section in question is narrow and hard to clear, Parks and Rec Director Steve Ashworth told commissioners in November. Parks and Rec abandoned doing so last year because plows pushed snow into the highway right of way, and crews are unable to blow snow into the road or adjacent property.
“Even if we put money toward this,” Ashworth said, “we should maybe have a conversation about is it the best use of very limited funds.”