Duncan's Crossing

Nicola Duncan and Sandy Duncan celebrate the opening of Duncan’s Crossing on the Ridge Path, in memory of John Duncan.

With money from donors and park funds, a long-awaited Ridge Path improvement in Gearhart celebrated completion in November with a bridge on the path over the wetlands between Eighth and 10th Street.

After approval of a proclamation from the City Council in November, the area is known as Duncan’s Crossing. It is named for John Duncan, a former city councilor who envisioned the walkway along the Ridge Path, the city’s famed north-south walkway just west of the Neacoxie.

The former Native American trail runs between privately owned residential properties within the blocks between Cottage Avenue and Neacoxie Creek, extending from F Street on the south to 10th Street on the north. The first 11 blocks were established by the original plat of Gearhart Park, as laid out and recorded by M.J. Kinney in 1890.

When he ran for City Council in 2014, Duncan listed as one of his top goals to complete and extend the portion of the Ridge Path from Eighth Street to Gearhart Loop Road. Duncan was a land surveyor and engineer who envisioned an extension to the Ridge Path from Eighth through to Gearhart Loop Road, with a walkway crossing over the wetland area that left the trail impassable many months of the year due to heavy rainfall.

Duncan’s passion helped him recruit volunteers, regularly clearing the proposed work area along the trail. Duncan died in 2015, in the early phase of the project.

Duncan and volunteers marched through mud, brambles and elk droppings with loppers and saws. He was out working on the path two days before his death in September 2015.

Duncan’s wife, Sandy shared his wish for the project to come to fruition. After his death, donations poured in for the crossing project, and volunteers held maintenance work parties to keep the path clear in anticipation. City staff worked with local surveyors, engineers and contractors to obtain the necessary permits, certifications, materials, and ultimately, complete construction of the wetland crossing.

While the project was delayed by designs and permitting, volunteers and city workers kept the bridge on track.

Mayor Paulina Cockrum and City Councilors Reita Fackerell, Dan Jesse, Kerry Smith and Brent Warren unanimously approved the proclamation.

Final steps will be placement of signs directing the trailgoers exiting 10th Street to where the trail continues, City Administrator Chad Sweet said. “We have already requested quotes for trail sign design with a local vendor and we’ll be discussing that in the future.”

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