City Council sets goals for park development and maintenance during meeting on Feb. 13

COURTESY CITY OF GRESHAM - The Arboretum is a special place to enjoy the wide range of trees that thrive in the city. Visit the Arboretum at 2303 SE Palmquist Road at Gradin Community Sports Park.Gresham City Council is focused on short- and long-term plans for the underserved parks across the community, discussing options during its meeting Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 13.

"As many young families move here, parks are as important as the other needs in the city," said Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis. "I want us to get serious about the underserved areas of this city."

There are six underdeveloped parks in Gresham, which staff estimate would take about $37.2 million to complete. Most of that would be directed toward completing the vision for Gradin Sports Park. There are also eight undeveloped sites slated for future parks, consisting of 81.4 acres across the community.

"We own the land, but they don't have any amenities or master plans," said Steve Fancher, director of Environmental Services. "Right now, they are essentially vacant land."

Six other locations have been marked for future acquisition. Fancher also told City Council during the meeting that several assets in parks need to be replaced as they age, like the dated play structure at Main City Park.

"We need to be doing a master plan for an underdeveloped park every year," said Councilor David Widmark.

Several projects are in the limelight for this year. They include moving into phase two at the Gradin Sports Park with additional facilities and fields, deciding what to do with the Hogan Butte historic home and initiating the master planning, design and construction processes for the first neighborhood park in Pleasant Valley — at a site where neighbors have complained about the lack of natural space. The council will also be hearing an update from Metro about the status of the Gabbert Butte Nature Park master plan during an April 10 meeting.

Phase one of Gradin Sports Park was completed in 2008 for $4.1 million, bringing two soccer fields, two softball fields, parking and utilities. Phase two would double the amount of the fields available, add more parking, a play structure for younger children, and provide a location for concessions and restrooms. The cost is estimated at $6 million. One possible source of funding could come from a state parks grant, which would provide up to $750,000.

The historic home near Hogan Butte Nature Park was purchased as part of the acquisition of the land for Gresham's newest natural area. The home, which once notoriously served as a popular brothel, could function in several ways. The city could give it to a nonprofit business, rent it as a residential home, use it as a wedding venue or have it be an educational center.

"The historic Hogan house is such a cool space," said Councilor Jerry Hinton. "We have it and should take advantage of it."

The Pleasant Valley neighborhood park would be located in the Brookside development. The developer has submitted preliminary design plans, which would cost an estimated $1.6 million to complete. So far, the Pleasant Valley Parks system development charges have collected $850,000, and staff estimate about 140 more homes are needed to fund the park. The staff plans to create a master plan for the park in anticipation of the new homes being completed.

"I know we have to use the term master plan, but it drives me crazy because it means 'time, time, time,'" Bemis said. "I think we need to be going faster."

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