One of the things I appreciate most about living in Astoria is the fact that you can walk to just about anywhere you need to go, and there are so many great places to go just for the sake of walking and enjoying nature.
When I learned of plans for the high school athletic field to be moved away from town, I was sorry to think that walking access to games and other events was being taken away from us all. I have also envisioned traffic congestion and the horror of kids cars wrapped around trees. There is currently not a walkable shoulder on Williamsport Road. I urge whoever is in charge to include walking access to the field in their plan, if it is not already.
I can see how some beautiful pedestrian trails could be developed through the forests between the middle school and new field. Shively Park or the middle school could serve as parking for those who at least want to walk part way. Some trails already exist they just need to be linked, promoted and tended.
My older son used to walk two miles up and over the hill to high school every morning in the dark for his zero period jazz class. He grew to love that time of day, had interesting encounters with birds and deer, and still has little interest in driving. He now lives in Portland, and survives quite well as a Portland State University student powered by his own legs and public transportation. I think that he became a lifelong walker because of that twice daily trek that also gave him independence from his mother and her gas-guzzling wheels.
A carefully constructed nature trail to the field could not only encourage walking by teens, but bring more environmental awareness to those who might otherwise have little exposure to forests. I am with Julia Mabry (Walking is healthy, The Daily Astorian, March 8) about the healthful benefits of walking. I hope that with good planning and vision, like we have seen with the Riverwalk and the Warrenton dikes, the route to the playing fields can help foster a love of walking as well as greater appreciation of the forests in our community. I want my middle-schooler to find his own legs too.