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From renovated splash pad in Tualatin Commons to veterans' memorial, parks projects underway

COURTESY TUALATIN PARKS & RECREATION - Heres a rendering of the type of equipment the city plans to install for younger kids at Atfalati Park during a recent city event.Tualatin Parks & Recreation is moving ahead with a project priority list that earmarks planned improvements, renovations or acquisitions to some the city's 316 acres of park land and open space.

The short list ranges from such popular renovations as making improvements to the splash pad at Tualatin Commons to creating a veterans memorial to pay tribute to all those who have fought in the nation's wars.

Recently, the Tualatin City Council gave direction to the parks and recreation department to move forward with six near-term priorities that were included in the city's updated Tualatin Parks & Recreation master plan and given a blessing by the Tualatin Parks Advisory Committee. That latter group prioritized 52 projects.

"It provides focus for us as staff," Ross Hoover, the city's parks and recreation director, said of the list.

And both Hoover and Rich Mueller, city parks planning and development manager, say the process of putting together a new parks master plan was focused on community involvement and input, ending up as an 18-month process that included holding 37 events and meetings involving 2,892 participants.

When it was all over, just under 38,000 people were notified through surveys, social media and open houses, all asked to weigh in to see what they would like to see happen in the city's 138 acres of 10 developed parks and natural parks, and its 178 acres of greenways and natural areas.

The second phase of the communication involved a draft plan review that also included community engagement with an additional 19 events and meetings, according to Mueller.

"Our system is ready for investment and the community is asking for the next version of our parks system," said Hoover.

Among the priority projects moving forward is a study of best uses for both a barn and the current Brown's Ferry Community Center in the 28.33-acre Brown's Ferry Park, a natural area located along the Tualatin River.

"Right now it (has) very limited use," Hoover said of the community center. "So this is an opportunity to really connect with the community."

Among the questions the city is asking is how could the community center, located in a two-story house, benefit the business community, nonprofit organizations and community groups in general, said Hoover.

Also on the priority list are plans for a new splash pad at the Tualatin Commons. Most recently, the city asked attendees at ¡Viva Tualatin! what they wanted to see in a revamped pad. An impressive 500-plus people pasted colored dots on the features they wanted most in the renovated area, said Mueller.

"We had a dozen different spray features, we had four different themes and we had a number of surface colors," he said. "(The splash pad) is 25 years old and ready for renovation."

The city will receive a 50% match from Oregon State Parks and Recreation for money the city puts into the splash pad for a project that could take up to two years to complete.

"We are so excited to see that level of interest from the community," Hoover said.

Other priority projects include:

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  • Pursuing partnerships with the Tigard-Tualatin School District in an effort to find areas where both entities can benefit. Previously, the city partnered with the district to fund and build an artificial turf field at Tualatin High School. That field is shared by high school sports teams as well as used for city youth sports leagues.

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  • Acquiring land for the Ice Age Tonquin Trail, which will connect the cities of Wilsonville, Tualatin and Sherwood.

    "It actually runs from the Willamette River in Wilsonville to the Columbia River in Portland," said Mueller. "This is getting the additional sections to build the trail in the futre."

    The project will continue for several years. Hoover also said another question that needs to be asked is how the city connects all of the city's parks to the regional trail system in the future.

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  • Creating a "smart" irrigation and drainage system at Lafky Park.

    "We're upgrading that irrigation with the current technology," said Hoover.

    The idea is to address problems with the 35-year-old irrigation system at the two-acre park by making watering more efficient. That means sprinklers that shut off when it rains.

    "When it doesn't need to be watered, it won't water," Hoover said. "This is really a pilot project."

    COURTESY TUALATIN PARKS & RECREATION - Residents look at the type of equipment they want to see installed in Atfalati Park.

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  • A war veterans' memorial. Hoover said there is already a core group of local veterans who are excited about the project.

    "Included in the (current city) budget is site selection and concept drawings," said Hoover, noting that $40,000 has been allocated for the project.

    Details of the project are yet to come.

    "That will all come out in the process," said Mueller. "What does the community want? What do the vets want?"

    In addition to the priority list is a planning and development section of projects, among those being planning for parks and trails in Basalt Creek, the unincorporated area between Tualatin and Wilsonville. The cities have been working for several years to plan how they will annex and develop portions of the area.

    At the same time, Hoover said plans are afoot for the "reimagining" of both the 15.5-acre Jurgens Park and Tualatin Community Park's 27 acres.

    "And by reimagining, I'm talking about 'let's start from scratch,'" said Ross, adding that the goal is to see how the parks will best serve future generations.

    Meanwhile, capital improvement projects are planned for both Atfalati Park and Stoneridge Park with plans moving forward to replace playground equipment at Atfalati Park. Mueller said more than 300 people weighed in on six potential equipment systems — three for younger children and three for older kids.

    "They selected their playground, and that's what we'll put in," Mueller said of equipment that includes swings, a spinning unit, ramps and hard surfaces expected to be installed by spring.

    The next step will be funding for some of the parks projects with city officials pointing out that some projects will be eligible for newly-approved parks system development charge funding but others won't. That means that other funding sources will be discussed including a possible operating levy, a park utility fee — which Tigard residents are currently charged as part of their monthly utility bills — or a general obligation bond.

    Meanwhile, the city is moving forward with plans for constructing a fenced-in, off-leash area for dogs in Jurgens Park. Hoover said Clean Water Services recently placed pipes in the park and agreed to construct a black vinyl fence on a half-acre of park property at no cost to the city.

    "We're really excited about it," he said. "All of our projects, we're trying to keep a creative approach about how we meet community needs."

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