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Monroe hopes for Centennial Trail hookup

MONROE - Monroe’s leaders want the Centennial Trail to come to the city.
The Monroe City Council approved a motion for Mayor Geoffrey Thomas to sign a letter of support for getting the trail extension at the March 4 meeting.
The letter will help Snohomish County’s Parks Department in its effort to securing funding for a five-mile extension from Snohomish to Monroe. It could go along the Old Snohomish-Monroe Road and connect to Lake Tye’s trail system.
The city’s timing in trying to attract funding for the trail coincides with the Chamber of Commerce’s push to market Monroe as an active town under a campaign called “Ride Here.”
Snohomish County Parks director Tom Teigen and his staff have been coordinating efforts to get the already-popular and vast Centennial Trail extended further through the county.
“We’ve been meeting on and off with city staff for the past four years,” Teigen said.
In the last four years, 10 miles, or one-third, of the Centennial Trail has been built.
The latest extension was built between Snohomish and Arlington and now the trail stands at 30 miles long from Snohomish to the Skagit County line.
It’s a big effort as one mile of trail costs $1 million to build, Teigen said.
“There’s a lot happening in the world of trails,” he said. 
For the desired trail extension between Monroe and Snohomish, the county parks department is currently working on surveying the land they already have in place to see what the extension will need. Teigen confirmed a trail extension would definitely need one bridge crossing. Such surveys not only determine the lay of the land, but more importantly, costs.
Constructing the trail won’t happen for a number of years, Teigen said. “It depends on funding. Right now, it’s a faith approach to (that portion of) the trail.”
Recently the county successfully won $5 million in grant money for a proposed trail extension from Snohomish to the King County line.
Teigen said the trail gets a half a million visitors each year, and there were 4.5 million visitors to county parks throughout 2013.
Monroe badly wants to be part of that.
In its support letter, the city talks about how the trail extension will cater to its goal of bringing more visitors and commerce to their region in correlation with the city’s theme “The Adventure Starts Here.”
“Monroe, our business community, and other local governments are committed to expanding outdoor recreation to ‘open up’ our communities to healthy choices and business development,” the letter says. “Completing the five-mile section… is not just consistent with Monroe’s vision, but supports a number of regional initiatives.”
Ride Here
Chamber of Commerce president Annique Bennett introduced the chamber’s Ride Here campaign last week, offering that it would give an alternative to the city’s marketing slogan “The Adventure Starts Here.”
“What’s really important here in Monroe is what people think of us,” Bennett said. “A brand is what people think of you, not what you say that you are. It’s a perception. There are so many things in Monroe, so many different attractions. It can be kind of confusing for folks when we just present the message, ‘The Adventure Starts Here.’ It starts a conversation, but it’s a conversation we need to sculpt.”
The marketing messages highlight events including NASCAR racing at Evergreen Speedway, wakeboarding on Lake Tye, indoor motorcross at the Fairgrounds, equestrian and animal shows and other events.
City Council members said last week they love the campaign.
Bennett hopes the primary lures of the “Ride Here” brand are the riding sports that attract overnight hotel stays.

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