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Concern over the future of Gladstone Nature Park has failed to sidetrack the city’s plans to build new civic buildings.

PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Gladstone Nature Park on a fall morning.On Tuesday evening by 58-to-42-percent preliminary results, voters passed a ballot measure to authorize a new Gladstone City Hall estimated at $4 million and police station estimated at $7.2 million. “Sale of certain city properties” is expected to cover approximately $3 million of those costs.

PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - This sign in front of Gladstone Nature Park commemorates Metro giving a grant to the city to improve the park.Councilor Kim Sieckmann said that the election was a big deal for realizing Gladstone’s next chapter.

“There are a few people who really tried to raise a ruckus, but obviously the majority of the voters want to see things move forward, and sometimes tough decisions need to be made to move things forward,” Sieckmann said.

Some citizens were upset when they found out that Gladstone Nature Park, the 10 acres on the corner of Webster and Oatfield Roads developed only with a walking trail, was designated for possible sale by the city after “No park lands will be sold” appeared as part of City Councilor Steve Johnson’s argument in favor of Measure 3-471.

PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - The 10-acre area behind Kearns Market is zoned commercial but is known as Gladstone Nature Park.Gladstone Nature Park is listed as a park on the city’s website, but zoning shows it as undeveloped commercial property.

PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Construction is underway on 122 apartments in the 4-acre site next to Gladstone Nature Park.Metro’s $80,000 Nature in Neighborhoods grant allowed the city to improve the area and purchase a trail easement in 2006. The city bought the property for $3.1 million as a public park and potential library site.

Mayor Dominick Jacobellis explained that the city owns few available parcels of land for possible sale. While recognizing the value of park land, Jacobellis said, City Council ordered a comprehensive study of available city-owned land to facilitate informed decisions about funding new civic buildings.

“The short answer to a complicated topic is that it is has not been designated to be sold,” Jacobellis said, adding “it is a possible funding source.”

City councilors faced a group of angry citizens at their Oct. 22 town hall on the ballot measure. Opponents of the ballot measure have been picketing in front of Gladstone Nature Park.

“It’s not a nature park; it’s commercial property with a trail running through it, and part of it is the city’s fault for not labeling it properly,” Sieckmann said.

Sieckmann and Councilor Pat McMahon said that they’ll be looking forward to lots of opportunities for public involvement as part of City Council’s due diligence period for now considering how to fund civic buildings.

“Disregarding the nature trail, I ran for election because I wanted to see the new police station and City Hall projects completed, and the previous City Council waited for years without doing anything, so I’m excited to move on to the next steps,” McMahon said.

Councilor Steve Johnson said that he didn’t mean to mislead anyone when he wrote the opinion for the Voters’ Pamphlet. He said he was trying to assure residents about Cross Park and Meldrum Bar Park, Gladstone’s two large parks along the Clackamas and Willamette rivers.

“Even if that particular line had not been in my argument, I think we still would have gotten some of this,” Johnson said. “There are a lot of people who are still upset over that particular piece of property, and so we’re going to have to start a healing process. It was an expensive lesson for me since I had to pay for that argument with my own money ($400 to the Clackamas County Elections Office).”

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