Deadline to apply for Grabhorn committee approaches
Scappoose residents have until 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, to submit applications to join the Grabhorn Park ad hoc committee.
The Scappoose City Council moved to form the committee, which will help guide plans for the city's new property next to Veterans Park, after receiving extensive feedback — much of it negative — to the city's initial development plans.
Ad hoc committees are groups that are established to complete a certain task, then are disbanded once that task is completed. In this case, that task is making two recommendations for the development of the Grabhorn property, which has so far been referred to as Grabhorn Park.
The committee will include members of the Scappoose Parks and Recreation Committee, along with one member representing each of six groups: the dog park, softball league, soccer club, Scappoose Bay Watershed Council, nearby neighborhoods, and general park users. The initial plans for the property, which is bounded on one side by South Scappoose Creek, included a creek-front trail, athletic fields, an outdoor pool and other amenities.
One of the most controversial proposals was to connect Northwest E.J. Smith Road to Southwest J.P. West Road by extending Captain Roger Kucera Way.
In total, the committee will have up to 15 members, including all members of the nine-seat parks and rec committee.
One member of the parks and rec committee took issue with having representatives for various groups of park users. Kim Holmes-Kantrowitz said she was speaking as an individual, not a representative of the committee, but she added that she had shared the comments she submitted to the council with other committee members who agreed with her view.
"When the parks and rec committee made the request to lead the community engagement work, it was our intent that this would come from a place of neutrality," Holmes-Kantrowitz told the City Council earlier this month. "Under the current design of the ad hoc committee, select stakeholder groups are being given a disproportionate say in the outcome of what will ultimately be recommended to city council in September.
"Giving community members from specific areas of the city or those representing special interests is building an inherent bias into the process."
Holmes-Kantrowitz asked the council to remove the group representatives from the ad hoc committee, leaving the parks and rec committee to make the recommendations to council.
"If that's not possible," Holmes-Kantrowitz said, "the council needs to acknowledge the starting point we've been given has inherent bias. And when other community groups express frustration with not having been given an equal voice, the city must acknowledge that this was by design."
Holmes-Kantrowitz also said that the involvement of both the soccer and softball communities would likely "prove to be incompatible," because while the initial conceptual plans included overlapping fields for the two sports, some members of the public said that the city should choose one field or the other rather than create overlapping fields that can't be used simultaneously.
While councilors heard Holmes-Kantrowitz out, they declined to adopt her suggestions.
"There is no perfect group. There's going to be inherent biases," Councilor Joel Haugen argued.
Mayor Scott Burge said any individual will have a personal bias.
"Each one of us on the council, we each have some biases that we bring to our council meetings, but as long as we're able to have that open and honest conversation we usually can come to a good decision," Burge said. "I think that's what we're looking at trying to do here."
The committee will meet twice per month, starting April 1, through Aug. 19. Meetings will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of the month.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.