Blue Lake turns green with funding
- Shannon Wells
- Gresham Outlook - News
Metro approves $10.6 million for Blue Lake Park golf, nature center
If all goes as planned, both experienced and novice golfers will have a new option for hitting the links in East County by summer 2012.
The Metro regional government council budgeted $10.6 million to complete design, engineering and construction of an environmentally focused nature and golf learning center at Blue Lake Regional Park in Fairview. Final approval is set for Thursday, June 25, with the adoption of Metro's budget.
The master plan includes a nine-hole family golf course, six-hole pitch-and-putt course, golf and operations building and covered driving range. Plans also call for replacing the aging Lake House event center and restoring a wetland area among other improvements.
The Nature and Golf Learning Center will be designed to protect and improve water quality, wildlife and native habitat, Metro officials said. The center will offer educational programs, while the golf courses will be geared toward individuals of all ages and abilities.
Designers have located holes to respect the environment and the area's American Indian history and have routed the course design to incorporate river, lake and wetland views while contributing to their protection, said Metro Councilor Rod Park.
'Its focus on improving the environment as well as making the game of golf available to a wider range of people makes the (center) the first of its kind in the Northwest and a true community resource,' he said. 'Non-golfers, especially youth, can learn from the game's integrity, and more experienced players can improve their game in a setting that places high regard on the nature of the area.'
The 300-person capacity event center that would replace the 110-person capacity Lake House, which is used for about 30 weddings each year, is likely to attract a wider variety of events and conferences, Park noted.
'It's a very exciting project, one we hope will enhance the livability of East County,' he said. 'It's a great family opportunity.'
Metro unveiled a plan in late 2006 for the 85 acres it owns east of Blue Lake Road. Charged with protecting open spaces as part of its mission, Metro officials say the project will enhance natural habitat.
'It's a high priority to manage this project with a high level of environmental stewardship,' said Teri Dresler, Metro Parks' deputy director of operations. 'This would bring back that wetland habitat.'
Located in an undeveloped parcel, the golf course plan calls for minimal water usage and no harmful chemicals to maintain the greens.
Because no direct streams feed the 64-acre lake, the land-locked impoundment suffers from algae growth and other factors contributing to lowered water quality. This was partially mitigated in the past year or so by the experimental introduction of solar-powered water circulators called 'Solar Bees.'
The three circulators were purchased from their manufacturer, which had loaned them to gauge results, this spring through a partnership between Metro and the Blue Lake Improvement Association.
As a further improvement to water quality, Metro officials plan to employ a system in which the golf course is watered from the lake and fresh water is pumped into the lake to create a more natural circulation of water.
Metro awarded the design and construction contract to Waterleaf/Design Works of Portland.
The project will be funded through general obligation bonds similar to those that fueled renovations of the Portland Exposition Center in the mid-1990s, Park said. The Blue Lake bonds will be paid back through user fees.
'The users of that facility will end up paying the tab' for the bonds, he said.
Blue Lake Regional Park is open from 8 a.m. to legal sunset every day except Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.
During the 223rd Avenue underpass construction project, drivers should use Fairview Parkway/207th Avenue or 238th Avenue to access Blue Lake Drive off Sandy Boulevard. There is a $5 entry fee per vehicle to visit the park.