GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN) — A convicted felon accused of kidnapping and raping a woman along the Springwater Corridor in March 2016 faced a judge Thursday, as the Gresham City Council said it was still rejecting plans to extend the trail within city boundaries.
Thomas Peacock pleaded guilty to first-degree rape, sexual abuse and kidnapping and will be spending the next 20 years in prison.
But public safety along the Springwater Corridor remains an issue.
Metro is leading a project aimed at extending a 6-mile section of the trail through Gresham and Troutdale. During the public outreach process, it became apparent many residents and city leaders still have concerns about the Springwater Corridor.
In light of Peacock’s sentencing, Gresham city leaders say the issue of public safety along the trail still needs to be properly addressed before the plan moves forward.
“One of the concerns that is contributing to their worry is the unprecedented decision that the City of Portland made this last summer when they allowed camping in public spaces,” Metro Councilor Shirley Craddick explained.
Part of the proposed extension includes carving out a new section of the Springwater Corridor in the area where Mt. Hood Community College sits.
Some students say they can see how extending the trail to the school would be a good thing — it would help students who are “kind of disconnected to nature,” one student said, while also improving access for those who bike to campus.
But others still acknowledged concerns regarding safety along the trail.
“I have to park all the way on the opposite side of the campus… and I get out [of class] when it’s darker,” student Audrey Herron said. “So if the trail is not the best and I’m walking by myself over there, there probably will be some safety issues.”
KOIN 6 News spoke to Metro Parks Conservation Program Director Dan Moeller who confirmed City of Gresham staff were no longer working on the project. Because Metro partners with cities involved in the project, he said all work will come to a halt.
“In this case, Metro is also going to stop working on that segment of the Troutdale to Gresham trail project,” Moeller said.