A committee has been gathering public input and crafting a list of proposals for the park

The Bob & Crystal Rilee Park advisory committee is continuing to work on a vision for the project on Parrett Mountain.

All seven members of the committee — citizens appointed by the Chehalem Park & Recreation District — have put together their individual portions of a lengthy report over the past 18 months.

The report summarizes the community's desires and serves as a vision for the future of the 325-acre property, which CPRD purchased in 2015.

Now, the committee will present its findings to the CPRD board at a public meeting on Jan. 8. The hope, according to committee member Wendy Wente, is for the meeting to be a "jumping off point" that gets the process moving.

"We haven't had all that much in the way of public discourse just yet," she said. "We're hoping that we present the ideas to the board and it opens public comment even further. People can go to the meeting, see the ideas we come up with and add or subtract where they see best fit."

There is a lot to unpack within the committee's report. Many of the proposals would transform the 325-acre property into a full-fledged park and historical site, while maintaining the sanctity and integrity of the land, Wente said.

Among the proposals discussed is the establishment of a heritage farm for historical purposes, multi-use trails, a play area for children that includes natural elements, habitat restoration and an established space for events or weddings.

"There are a lot of different ideas and it seems like there is a lot of history with how people have used that land in the past," Wente said. "I live near the park and apparently people have used it for equestrian trails and hiking. There is just a lot of history associated with that specific property and people want to see it carried into the future."

When Wente and her fellow members present their report, it will be up to CPRD to formulate responses and adjust its master plan according to what it hears from the committee and community members.

Additional public input will have an impact on what is included in the master plan, as will the feasibility of the committee's proposals and the resources CPRD is able to allocate to the park.

The Jan. 8 meeting — at 6 p.m. in the CPRD administration offices on Elliott Road — is expected to last multiple hours, given the wide swath of subjects to be discussed for such a large property.

Wente expects that the community education opportunities will stand out to the board and to the public as ways to make use of the farm and its surrounding natural area.

As a biologist, habitat restoration is particularly important to Wente. Having face time with the board and hearing from more community members is important to the committee as well.

"I am intending this to be the start of a conversation, with public input and response from the board," Wente said. "We really haven't interacted with the board much lately, so getting this formal interaction will be important."

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