Wilsonville parks department flush with projects, but not cash
Wilsonville Parks & Recreation department is facing a conundrum that's all too familiar to Parks Director Mike McCarty in his time working for various city governments. The department is flush with appealing projects it would like to bring to the community, but doesn't have nearly enough money to complete most of them — at least in the near future.
In turn, the parks department, in partnership with the Wilsonville City Council, will need to make some tough choices about what to prioritize and how to divvy up the $1.7 million in money projected to be allotted to parks for fiscal 2019-20. (The department also is projected to have $700,000 for senior services and $1 million for special events and supplies). The City's Budget Committee will discuss the overall budget at meetings in May and then the City Council likely will finalize the proposal June 3.
"You hate to say 'woe is me' but it's frustrating because there are a lot of cool things we could do," McCarty said.
The Parks & Recreation Department is brimming with project ideas because it recently completed both the 2018 Comprehensive Parks Master Plan and the Boones Ferry Park Master Plan, but McCarty said some of the grunt work such as further planning and designing needs to be completed first.
"We're trying to prioritize low-hanging fruit with monies that are available in the budget. How do we approach coming up with that money? That's what we have to figure out," McCarty said.
Some projects likely to receive funding next year, McCarty said, include a new Memorial Park dog park next to the community garden and the addition of a bicycle pump track — a dirt park with jumps and other features — as well as a new parking lot near it.
"It should be very inexpensive ... and something we should be able to do easily with money in our annual budgets," McCarty said of the track. "It's not a fancy thing like getting synthetic turf."
A couple big-ticket items McCarty would like to see completed in the coming years include bolstering river access to the Willamette River through the addition of a boat launch and river overlook at Boones Ferry Park as well as improvements to the Memorial Park dock and the implementation of soccer/lacrosse and baseball fields at the proposed Frog Pond Community Park that will be located next to Meridian Creek Middle School.
Two turf baseball fields also will be added at Memorial Park to replace two grass fields. McCarty said the new fields at the Frog Pond park would cost about $13 million and the parks department likely would hire a geologist and hydrologist to study the boat launch proposal at Boones Ferry Park next year.
"We heard in the community a lot of stuff about the river and fields kids could use year-round," McCarty said about the public outreach process.
McCarty said the parks department is discussing other revenue streams, such as grants, to help fund some of its more ambitious projects.
Though the City previously had mentioned the idea of studying a new indoor sports facility, McCarty said that's unlikely to be conducted next year.
"I don't know where it would go. Would we have to buy land somewhere? I think right now it's more in the discussion stage. It's not really even on our list," he said.
Though it may take awhile, McCarty hopes some of the ambitious projects listed in the master plan will come to fruition sooner rather than later.
"It would be nice to get it done while the people that (advocated for it) can still enjoy it," McCarty said.