DAYTON — The community is invited to a workshop Saturday to give feedback on the layout and design plans for the Touchet Valley Trail between this community and Waitsburg.

The design charette, an architectural term for a meeting where all stakeholders in a project attempt to resolve conflicts and map solutions, will take place from 5-7 p.m. at the Columbia County Fairgrounds Pavilion, North Pine Street, Dayton.

Four design teams will give a presentation of possible designs, and community members will be encouraged to place sticky note dots on their preferred designs of the trail and add commentary, according to the Port of Columbia, one of the organizations leading this project.

Aiding the Port in developing the trail plan is the Touchet Valley Trail Steering Committee and the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program.

At the annual Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy meeting in 2015, the construction of a 9.7-mile nonmotorized trail connecting Dayton and Waitsburg made number two of three priorities and was bumped up to number one in 2016, according to the Port of Columbia.

Joy Smith, a member of the steering committee who has attended every meeting, said the event is part of a long process of 15 meetings.

“It has been a huge planning process, and we are just minutes into it. This weekend it is the first opportunity to put pen to paper,” she said. “It’s going to be a great thing for Waitsburg … it will increase visitor traffic … people are looking for free and low-cost ways to be healthy.”

Before the community feedback session on Saturday, 10 students from Washington State University and two students from the University of Washington will work alongside eight professional landscape architects to design the trail on paper.

The designs, sketches, graphic ideas and notes will be based on a summary of comments collected from past community meetings, said Alexandra Stone, the community planner for the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program.

Stone said the students and architects are all volunteers participating in the Washington Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Parks Service’s Assistance Program.

“It is a part of the students’ junior level design coursework and will give them hands-on experience with professional landscaping architects,” she said.

They will be housed and fed by community members, and their transportation is covered by their universities.

The students will face the challenges of where exactly to put a trail, how to include a trailhead and how to connect parts of the trail into town, said Stone.

Smith, who also leads the Waitsburg Commercial Club, said she wants the trail to be user friendly.“We need as much community input as possible,” she said.

Don Benson, a facilitator from American Society of Landscape Architects said, “the object is to have design concept that can be taken forward to the Port to see the trail get designed, implemented and built.”

He confirmed that the students and architects will only be part of the very beginning design stages to brainstorm ideas at the design charette.

They will not be continuing with the process but instead will hand over the designs to the Port of Columbia for further planning.

“The Port of Columbia has received a technical assistance grant from the NPS to aid in developing a concept plan and a planning grant from Washington State Department of Transportation for engineering and design of the trail,” according to a release from the Port of Columbia.

Chloe LeValley can be reached at or 509-526-8326.