Willamette Water Supply Program pipe will lead to temporary closure of local park
When the City of Wilsonville agreed to allow entities in the Willamette Water Supply Program (WWSP) to dig a pipe through Wilsonville so that municipalities like Hillsboro and Beaverton could use the Willamette River as its water source, it demanded concessions.
In 2018, the City negotiated $17 million in prepaid rents, an expansion of its treatment plant capacity and seismic upgrades, and a guarantee of long-term ownership of the Willamette River Water Treatment Plant, among other things.
Since then, the plan for the pipe placement has become more obtrusive. In turn, upon approval of the agreement, the City will receive more compensation.
The WWSP determined that it needed to run the pipe closer to the middle of the Willamette River Water Treatment Plant Park rather than the outer edges. Thus, City Attorney Barbara Jacobson said the park will not be able to be redeveloped with an alternative use in the future and will definitely be closed to the public during construction.
The WWSP will in turn pay for about $2.5 million in improvements to the park. Wilsonville City Council unanimously voted to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the WWSP to update the project during the Oct. 21 Wilsonville City Council meeting. The Willamette Water Supply System Commission Board also was scheduled to vote on whether to approve the IGA during a meeting Monday, Oct. 29 — after the Spokesman went to press.
"I believe we're getting a great value," said Public Works Department Director Delora Kerbe at the council meeting. "I think it's a fair compensation for what we're getting."
Mayor Tim Knapp added, "All these pieces fit together and are really necessary for the entire project to move forward as has been envisioned."
The original agreement indicated the pipeline would run along the western edge of the park. Now, it will run closer to the middle. Jacobson said the change was made to avoid a slope and that it also will save trees and a bee habitat.
"The primary reason is they've determined that the closer you get to the edge of the bank, the less slope stability there is," she said. "It would be a much more difficult installation of seismic materials at that further edge. To ensure that the seismic (improvements) will hold, they wanted to move it further in and to save more trees and other landscaping."
Jacobson said that in the initial agreement, the City might have been able to keep a portion of the park open, but because the construction will take place through the middle, the entire park will be closed.
City Engineer Patty Nelson said that the majority of the project's work will take place between June 2020 and February 2022, but that there might be more work done in the park between September 2022 to December 2024.
"From what I know, I think they want to get in and out of the park as soon as they can, and I think that will be one of the first things they do," Jacobson said.
The WWSP also will relocate two raw water pumps currently used by Wilsonville.
In return, the WWSP will build a new river overlook in the park, multiple trails and add trail lighting and landscaping, reconstruct a stormwater outfall and refurbish and seismically retrofit the pumps that need to be relocated, among other things.
"The park there is going to be a giant mess during the big pipe construction, but in the end I think we'll have a much nicer park," Councilor Charlotte Lehan said.
As for overall construction in Wilsonville, the WWSP has built the pipeline along Wilsonville Road and Garden Acres Road to 124th Avenue and will begin construction from Wilsonville Road to Garden Acres Road next year.
As for the loss of opportunity to redevelop the park into another use, Lehan said that would be a bad idea anyway.
"I don't think it's an option. I think it's an excellent park," she said. "Giving more public access to the river has long been a council goal. It would be going backward to reduce that."
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