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Citizen group aimed at park improvement projects scheduled to hold second meeting in June

As the city is deep in efforts to develop new parks, Scappoose now has its own parks improvement organization.SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - Dogs enjoy grass fields at the Scappoose Dog Park. A new citizen group, Friends of Scappoose Parks, aims to take on parks improvement and fundraising projects on behalf of recreational areas in Scappoose.

Friends of Scappoose Parks was established this year and kicked off its first meeting on May 17.

The group was started as a way to complete small park improvement projects and raise money for city parks, while gathering and passing along community input about parks and recreational opportunities in Scappoose.

In its infancy, the group is currently facilitated by Garett Peterson, an AmeriCorps program participant working with the city of Scappoose.

Peterson says Friends of Scappoose Parks will eventually become a citizen group, independent of the city.

"We envision it as a community-run program," Peterson says. "I'm just helping to get it up and going. Hopefully I can hand it off."

The city already has a parks and recreation committee, which primarily serves as an advisory committee to the Scappoose City Council and city staff. The Parks and Rec committee is tasked with helping the city develop its parks master plan, while making recommendations to city officials.

The "Friends" group will serve a different purpose.

"There's essentially four different parts to it," Peterson explains. "Fundraising — identifying park improvement projects; community outreach; volunteer clean up events; and the Adopt a Park program."

By offering an organization, business or benefactor the option to adopt a city park, that person or group becomes responsible for maintaining a park, or a park section.

Citizens stand to play a key role in the future of the city's parks as Scappoose works to develop Chief Concomly Park alongside Scappoose Creek, and presses Columbia County to deed over land for the development of a park at Chapman Landing.

The parks endeavors come despite the city's lack of dedicated staffing for park maintenance or upkeep.

During an inaugural meeting last month, interested residents brainstormed a few projects the group could take on over the next few months, says Peterson.

Those projects include adding more trash receptacles to city parks and adding signage on trails and parks where possible to denote natural features of interest or historical significance. Participants also pitched the idea of adding native and pollinator-friendly plants in parks around the city, particularly ones that border waterways.

"They came up with some good ideas that are reasonable, and even overlap with the city's own goals," Peterson notes. "A lot of these projects don't cost much and are low maintenance."

Projects and areas of focus for next year are expected to be narrowed down at the next Friends of Scappoose Parks meeting at 7 p.m., Thursday, June 21, at Scappoose City Hall.

Everyone is invited to attend.

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