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Future park includes contentious proposals for pool, road connection, dog park relocation

Scappoose City Hall is moving forward on plans for the Grabhorn property purchased earlier this year.

The city government has proposed creating a new park on the 9.5-acre property, complete with soccer and softball fields, an outdoor pool, and a walking trail along South Scappoose Creek.

An outdoor pool has been the most contentious of the proposals, but according to a survey conducted on behalf of the city government, 62% of respondents support an outdoor seasonal pool. In addition, 62% of respondents support new funding mechanisms for the pool.

Some residents were dismayed by the city focusing park development in a small area.

The proposed Grabhorn Park would join with Veterans Park, already the city's largest recreation area, which is neighbored by Chief Concomly Park.

"Why are all of the parks clustered in this one area?" one survey respondent asked. "How about the rest of Scappoose? We just play in the gutter?"

The use of green space is also somewhat contentious. The proposal includes overlapping softball and soccer fields, though Veterans Park already includes two diamond fields.

Some survey respondents said the community was in greater need of more soccer fields, rather than baseball or softball fields. Other respondents said the exact opposite.

Some respondents advocated for a skate park to ease crowding at the existing skate park next to City Hall, or for improvements to existing athletic fields to add turf, lights and better drainage, which would make the fields usable even in the dark or after rains.

Among the 73 park amenities suggested by survey respondents, a few were echoed by dozens of residents. Those include picnic tables and benches, a covered gathering area, larger playground, a bridge over to Chief Concomly Park, and fields or courts for tennis, basketball, disc golf and pickleball.

Some residents who frequent the dog park at Veterans Park were concerned by the conceptual plans, which show a new road built on top of the current dog park.

The initial conceptual drawings showed the road going over the dog park but didn't include a relocated pet area, drawing concern from dog park users.

The existing dog park was largely developed by community members, not the city. Jim Lykins, who led the nonprofit Scappoose DOG in improving the facilities, told city officials of his concerns after the initial plans were released.PMG PHOTO - A dog sniffs out a water fountain at the Scappoose off-leash dog park in Veterans Park.

"A lot of people have put a lot of work into creating the dog park, it is used constantly ... and I didn't see any consideration of that in the initial plans," Lykins said.

Lykins said he spoke with Scappoose Public Works Director Dave Sukau, who said relocating the dog park was always part of the plan but simply hadn't been included in the sketches that were shared with the public.

Costs associated with relocating the dog park hadn't been included in the initial conceptual plan. In updated plans shared ahead of city council's Nov. 16 meeting, a line item was added for relocating dog park with fencing and landscaping at $70,000.

The total project cost estimate is now $4.1 million, up from $3.5 million in the initial conceptual plans.

The dog park could be moved to an area above the new road, but creating a similar-sized fenced off-leash area would require extensive work on the land, not simply moving the fence.

"I'm glad we have some assurance now that the dog park is not being completely overlooked," Lykins said. "Of course, we're concerned about (having) some facility available while all this work is going on."

The road over the current dog park would connect E.J. Smith Road to Captain Roger Kucera Way. The two roads run north-south, but are separated by the dog park. Connecting the roads has been on the city's transportation system plan for a few years and is supported by first responders.

For residents living off E.J. Smith Road west of South Scappoose Creek, the bridge on E.J. Smith is virtually the only way to cross the creek. Connecting E.J. Smith and Captain Roger Kucera would allow residents to cross the creek at J.P. West Road.

For first responders, the connected road "would have been very useful during our last flooding event and, or, in the event that a bridge happens to fail," a Scappoose city staff report noted.

The road extension project was criticized by some residents — particularly those who live in the neighborhood above Veterans Park — who worry that the road will become a dangerous area for children, dogs and families visiting the park, as a through-road could increase traffic and driving speeds.

The road expansion "is confusing and raises many questions," Marisa Jacobs, who lives above Veterans Park, wrote in a letter to the Scappoose City Council.

"There is no need to disrupt the homes, increase the traffic, destroy the dog park, move the maintenance shop, interfere with the creek and beauty there," Patty Thayer wrote to city staff.

The proposed pool at Grabhorn Park would be outdoors, meaning it would only be open for a few months out of the year. Public outdoor pools in Portland are typically open from mid-June to the end of August.

Many of those who supported a pool wanted it to be indoors, which would make it accessible year-round.

"Scappoose residents have been trying to get a pool for 30 years. It's a bit of a slap in the face to only be offered a pool only open three months of the year," a survey respondent wrote.

The cost estimate for building the outdoor pool is roughly $900,000, including associated costs like erosion control work and a fence around the pool.

Installing an indoor pool would be far more expensive, requiring the construction of a building to house it and a climate control system.

Information about city council's response at their last meeting will be posted on spotlightnews.net on Friday, Nov. 20.


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