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Residents will see at least one bond measure on the ballot in the May 2022 election.

PMG PHOTO: HOLLY BARTHOLOMEW - If voters approve a bond measure in May, the city of West Linn will purchase the Oppenlander property from the West Linn-Wilsonville School District. When West Linn residents open their ballots next spring for the May 2022 election, they will see at least one bond measure asking them to fund city facility needs.

The West Linn City Council spent its last two meetings discussing those needs, in particular the acquisition of the Oppenlander fields on Rosemont Road and replacement of the city's waterline that runs beneath the Abernethy Bridge.

After an outcry from the community last spring when the West Linn-Wilsonville School District announced its plans to sell the Oppenlander property, the district and city entered a tentative agreement for the city to purchase the land to preserve as park space. Without the $6 million or more needed to purchase the property, the city will ask residents to fund its acquisition of the land in the May bond vote. If the bond does not pass, the district can put the property back on the market.

An appraisal process is currently underway to determine the price of the property, which was previously appraised at $6.5 million. However, the city will likely ask voters for a higher dollar amount which would fund the purchase of the fields as well as several upgrades to the park. According to city staff, Oppenlander does not currently meet the city's standards for an active recreation park.

Exactly what upgrades the city will ask voters to fund is still to be determined, but the council has discussed paving the parking lot, which is currently gravel, adding cement pathways between fields, constructing restrooms, adding a small play structure and improving field drainage.

The city recently conducted an informal poll of residents to gauge the community's appetite for particular upgrades and amenities at Oppenlander. Nearly 1,500 people (1,400 of them West Linn residents) participated in the survey.

According to the city, 70% of participants said they'd like to include the addition of a standard park restroom in the bond measure. The cost for the bathroom would add about $450,000 to the measure.

Just over half of respondents (53%) said they'd support adding costs to pave the parking lot (about $175,000) to the measure. Nineteen percent of respondents said they were unsure and 27% said they did not support inclusion of the parking lot costs in the measure.

Most respondents (57%) also favored adding the costs of ADA-compliant paths and sidewalks to the park (estimated to cost $175,000) to the measure. Nineteen percent of respondents said they were unsure and 24% were not in favor of including paths in the measure.

Respondents showed more support for including field irrigation upgrades (estimated to cost $80,000) in the measure. About two thirds of respondents (69%) supported inclusion of those costs while 14% were not in favor and 17% were unsure.

Just under half of respondents (49.7%) supported including costs of a play structure ($300,000); 20% were unsure about the play structure costs and 30% were opposed.

Respondents showed strong support for including lights in the parking lot and around pathways ($25,000). Seventy percent supported including lighting costs in the measure, while 17% were opposed and 12% were unsure.

During the council's discussion of the property and survey results on Nov. 15, Mayor Jules Walters and Councilor Mary Baumgardner noted that many respondents expressed interest in an indoor recreation center and a community pool in the survey comments.

Community Development Director John Williams told the council that there was room for such a facility at Oppenlander, but the city also has property on Parker Road between Tanner Creek Park and the Cascade Summit shopping center that could one day be used for a pool and rec center. He also noted that the Parker Road property was not suitable for sports fields.

Councilors Rory Bialostosky and Todd Jones said they supported including the costs for basic improvements to bring the Oppenlander property up to city park standards, but wanted more information on the community's desires for further upgrades.

Water needs funded by bond?

PMG FILE PHOTO - A waterline supplying water to the city of West Linn runs under the Abernethy Bridge.The city of West Linn is also considering a bond to support its water infrastructure needs, though the city council has not decided on whether this measure will come in the May election or a later one.

The city's primary need is to replace its water main that currently hangs under the Abernethy Bridge, which will be affected when the Oregon Department of Transportation Department begins working on the bridge as part of I-205 improvement project.

All of West Linn's water runs through the pipe, which has about 20 years of life left. The estimated cost to the city for replacing the pipe is about $10 million, a figure that took city officials by surprise earlier this fall. Because the timeline for the I-205 project was recently moved up, the city had not accounted for replacing the pipe in its water master plan adopted in 2008.

Over the past several weeks, the council has discussed its obligation to pay for the waterline, acknowledging that the need to replace it would not approach so quickly if not for ODOT's work on I-205.

However at its meeting Nov. 22, the council approved an agreement with ODOT to cover the costs of the pipeline work.

Before the vote, Walters and Bialostosky shared their unease about taking on the cost but said providing water to the city was of great importance.

"Being able to provide water to citizens even after a seismic event is paramount," Bialostosky said. "I've done my due diligence and there really are no other options."

The city hopes it may be able to use money from the American Rescue Plan Act or other federal funding to cover some of the cost.

During a discussion of the city's water system as a whole on Nov. 15, Public Works Director Lance Calvert said that replacing the Abernethy waterline is the city's most pressing water need, but noted the city's entire water infrastructure is aging.

Calvert added that of the city's half a dozen water tanks, the recently built Bolton Reservoir is the only one that could withstand a major seismic event. Replacing the other tanks, which are made of steel, is something the city could consider.

While it has not decided when to place a water infrastructure bond measure on the ballot, the council is considering whether to include some of these outlying needs with the costs for the Abernethy pipe in the measure.


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