PARKS COMMISSION MEETINGOctober 28, 2004
Attending: John Brandt, Robert Garrett, Laura Dowlan, Michael Higgs, Jyll Smith, Nick McDonough, Tanya Beard, Orville Rice, Jeff Bickford
Absent: Wynn Cudmore
Recorder: Diana Craig
BOC: Janet Carlson, Sam Brentano, and Patti MilneJ. Thomas Atkins presentation, North Santiam TrailJason Franz presentation, proposed BMX facility at Rogers Wayside Park
Introductions: After brief introductions, Janet noted that this year, the BOC has been scheduling with all of the advisory boards and reviewing what each board is doing. They felt it was important to get involved with each, with communication being the key to guide direction for each board. One of their main concerns for our parks, very much in the public eye and in the paper recently, is for their maintenance and security. According to Public Works staff, there have been recent numerous reductions in budgeting. Funding is key; the BOC is committed to supporting what they can while staying within our funding restraints.
The BOC were very pleased with the project to provide the playground equipment at Santana Park. (Click on the link to view pictures of the project) http://publicworks.co.marion.or.us/parks/SantanaImprovement/santana_park_photo_index.asp
Hopefully, with hard work and community support, other similar projects could be funded in the future. The BOC hopes to unify all the advisory board with similar by-laws. The next scheduled parks commission meeting will address the need to update their by-laws. Jeff, Tanya, Orville, and Diana are already scheduled to attend training on December 3rd provided for leaders and staff on public meeting laws. This training will cover Roberts Rules of Order, generating ground rules, county standards, and guidelines for advisory boards. Patti encouraged the boards that they are the eyes and ears of the BOC and to let them know what’s happening in our parks. Sam’s personal belief with our parks system is livability of safe and secure parks for our community. He would like to thank and recognize the parks board members for their hard work.
Alternative Transportation Link feasibility study
Tom Atkins, a consultant conducting a feasibility study for the North Santiam Canyon Economic Development Corporation, presented information on the effort to establish a system of trails linking communities and parks in the canyon. A report on the proposed 34-mile system between Lyons and Idanha is expected to be released by the end of October after further public comment. The system would use a combination of state-owned railroad bed, shoulders of state and county roads, existing trails and parks. Early efforts would focus on extending existing trails from communities outward. Funding for establishment and maintenance of the system of asphalt and graveled trails would come from a combination of public and private sources. Marion County is likely to be asked to widen shoulders when doing road improvements along the trail system.
Tom Atkins began his presentation by giving an overview of the proposed project. Development started in Spring 2003. He was hired by the trail system’s economic development board to get out in the community to get a feeling of what the community wanted. Laura, who is on our park’s commission board, has also been a very active member of that trail committee. Tom shared that he has touched base with both sides including positive support as well as a few strong objections to the proposed trail system. At the offset of the project, he began with a series of community meetings. At their first meeting, he presented the resource information, guiding principles, and goals.
In September, at another series of meetings, they presented the final plans and goals to familiarize citizens with the areas that encompassed the trail system alignment. One of these meetings was held in Detroit and another was held in Mill City; each represented both ends of the geographic area within the trail system.
The proposed trail system begins in Lyons on the west side and continues on to Idanha on the east end. There is approximately 34 miles of corridor trail, the heart of which is about 12 miles of state owned railroad bed beginning west of Mill City and ending at the base of Big Cliff Dam. The Economic Development Corporation developed the overall goals for the project. These goals include stimulating tourism and the economic benefits within the canyon, as well as improving the quality of life for its residents and visitors. The National Institute of Health is really beginning to look at the health benefits of exercise that relate to trail use because hiking/biking is such an easy way to exercise. Other goals include boosting economic productivity and providing a safer non-motorized transportation as an alternative to Hwy 22 for both residents and visitors. It also links communities together and to natural resources of the canyon.
Tom then presented one of the first resource maps developed by the stakeholders of the project and community business leaders showing the proposed trails systems. This resource map became their game board for the project that identified both the natural and cultural resources that they hoped to link. The trail plan represents (3) three different levels of trail system. The overall trail network was shown on the map.
The next map showed the central spine area that starts at Lyons and parallels the North Santiam River to Detroit Lake and then on up to Idanha. They then broke down the project into 18 different sections. Their detailed report ranked these areas into (3) three priorities. Green signified those trails, which would be developed first, yellow to be developed second, and red to be developed last. These were ranked by ease of implementation, funding opportunities, environmental factors, community support, and backing from adjacent property owners. There is a summary table that represents each section describing the ease of implementation, and lists specific comments for each section, with recommendations in terms of development sequence. Several other concerned groups they met with were representatives from the railroad and Niagara Park area about concerns they had for the trail. The main question that came up continually in meetings with stakeholders and those with the public meetings is who will maintain the trail? The report’s recommendation for maintenance and development of the trail system would be to set up a joint management group including county, state, local jurisdictions, and representatives from volunteer groups. There are very successful models in the state, NW, and throughout the United States. He then answered funding questions as well as feedback concerning community support/opposition for the project.
Laura/Orville: Orville added the steel bridge currently used on the S. Abiqua River is scheduled to be replaced soon. This bridge has potential to be used for a crossing, at one time there was a wooden railroad trestle there. After working on this project together they have come up with a possible preliminary plan: "Marion County Public Works would work with the Oregon Department of Transportation and Oregon State Parks to install a bridge over Minto Creek to provide for both vehicle and foot traffic. The bridge would reconnect the old railroad right-of-way on each side of Minto Creek and contribute towards the completion of the Canyon Connector Trail. The bridge would allow for the possibility of relocating the currently dangerous entrance of Minto Park along Highway 22 to the safer entrance at Maples Rest Area.”
Mike McCarthy – gave a general overview of how they could combine his current efforts with transportation planning for MC. He encouraged them to contact him on any of their needs for planning involving the transportation system network in Marion County.
Presentation/Discussion: Jason Franz, proposed BMX track at Rogers Wayside in Silverton. Tanya first gave a little background information as well as key issues of liability for MC. In addition, Tanya spoke with Molalla on their BMX Park and found out how it was working in their community. The first priority for their proposed project involves finding property for their project. Jason is chairperson for his group and working on acquiring the area for the proposed BMX system. Rogers Wayside Park would be perfect and is currently under-used. The implementation would not disturb the creek or existing trees. His group hand-delivered informational packets referencing the proposed BMX project to the adjoining property owners and surrounding community. His group received very positive feedback from the community in support for their idea. He explained to the BOC that the park is currently under used. John Brandt had asked about the possibility of building a trail on Oregon Garden property to adjoin the (2) two areas. Jeff Bickford responded to the question that the Oregon Garden is concerned about who will cover the liability in the event of an injury on the in-between land, and that the Oregon Garden is looking for the county to take on that responsibility.
Tanya talked with our legal councel Scott Norris; he stated that limitation on liability for recreation is extreme, with the buyers beware kind of attitude. Possibly, we would could classify the trail as “recreational only” to ensure we wouldn’t be held responsible. This is a start for working with our legal team from that standpoint. Orville asked Jason who would provide the necessary maintenance. His response, MSDC (Mountain Street Dirt Crew), he is the head of this group in the local community. He presented a letter to the commission from the City of Silverton. (letter) Jason gave the group a sample of the packets that were given out. John’s concerns are still the traffic hazards for bikers in the area. One possible solution to improve safe access to the park would be to change the current speed limit in the area. The current path goes by Safeway; the hope is to continue the path for a safer connection. Jeff Bickford said PW has asphalt grindings that are readily available for the project. Electricity, water, restrooms, etc. all will be addressed before any decision can be made. Patti was encouraging to him for the project. She suggested that he might make use of our Juvenile Department crews to make this project happen and to encourage the community to get involved. She also encouraged him to contact as many of our departments as he can to continue to glean additional help. Sam has recently toured the community in Silverton. He personally saw the interest for a project that involved bikes and skateboards. Orville said that plans for a new bathroom are already in place for our park at the location. Laura asked if there were any cooperative agreements for maintenance; what entity would be supporting the effort, would his group seek non-profit status and has IMBA endorsed his group? Jason gave feedback that it would depend on what the county would require. Tanya stated that it was imperative that their group become more formal, incorporated, etc. She suggested that if their group were affiliated with IMBA, it would make grants for them more feasible. Further, there would have to be an inter-governmental agreement in place with the group signed to make the project feasible. John still had concerns, is changing this park to a single use going to affect the park’s use. If this proposed park project cleaned up the area, it would be more usable for other uses with the possibility of playground equipment in the future. Tanya will set up a checklist for Jason, i.e. a “to do” list for the possible proposed project development. Laura D. wants a drawing that could include access concerns as well as multiple use ideas. Tanya has talked to a company named Kimball who currently operated at the expense of Friends of The Track. The agreement is between the City of Molalla and Kimball, this could be a possibility for our idea. Janet asked for a copy of their intergovernmental agreement. She felt we could possibly model ours by their example and save us having to “recreate the wheel.” The group was encouraged to look at the BMX track in Molalla. Tanya will contact our legal department and find out the level of organization Jason’s group needs to be, acquire a copy of Molalla’s contract, and get the information to the parks board ahead of the next meeting. Jason will be responsible to look into what status of organization he needs to build. The major concern continues to be, who will actually be responsible for being in charge of getting the maintenance done. In the Molalla-Kimball agreement, there was an out-clause included, that if maintenance were not kept up, the park would be taken back and re-developed. The maintenance at their facility has been great. They built a fence that separated the track from the rest of the area. This allows the area’s use for multiple activities.
Updates Maintenance, Restoration, Projects, Master Plan Process, Other topics:
Upcoming projects - Parks Project Wish list DRAFT
'04-'05 New restroom facility at Rogers Wayside--$16K
'04-'05 Trail and bridge construction at Aumsville Ponds (labor to be provided by volunteers from Northwest Youth Corps)--$10K
'04-'05 Trail rehabilitation at Niagara Park (labor to be provided by volunteers from Northwest Youth Corps)--$3K
'05-'06 New play equipment at Denny Park--$50K
'05-'06 Backstop, picnic table and trash can at Auburn Park--$20K
'05-'06 New restroom facility at Minto Park--$16K
'06-'07 New play equipment at Labish Village Park--$50K
'06-'07 Full hiking trail with view points at Bonesteele Park--$60K
'07-'08 New restroom facility at Spongs Landing (flush toilets, new septic system and drainfield)-$250K
'07-'08 New play equipment at Spongs Landing--$75K
'08-'09 Boat ramp at Spongs Landing--no cost estimate is currently available
'08-'09 New play equipment at Scotts Mills Park--$60K
Tanya will be putting together a 5-yr. plan for developing this list, with security and maintenance as priorities for this list. We will be including this as an agenda item for the next meeting. Laura suggested they discuss a strategy along with the BOC to build our master plan and re-involve the public to get interested in our parks.
A primary goal of Parks is to increase the level of service we are able to provide our visitors on a consistent basis. Currently, the most efficient way for us to achieve this goal is to hire a full-time person for 6 months of each year (the open season for our parks). This individual would be responsible for the majority of the on-the-ground maintenance activities, leaving Orville free to pursue and complete the special projects outlined above. The estimated cost for an employee filling this position is $11K. If funds were available to have a full-time employee year-round, the level of service could be further increased. The estimated cost of this action is $30K (due to benefits).
Current safety measures include the use of Pro-Star Security Company who is responsible for opening and closing the gates at Aumsville Ponds, Spongs Landing, and in '05 we will be adding Scott Mills Park. Additionally, Parks is active in the North Santiam Security Corridor group, an interagency taskforce aimed at increasing safety and security in the North Santiam Canyon area. Other measures of security are desired, such as utilizing Sheriff's cadets for patrols, but require significant funds currently unavailable to us.
Tanya introduced Emily as our Americorps volunteer. One of her responsibilities as a volunteer is to do a community project with her being in charge of the project. This could be helpful for our parks. Tanya would like to give her the opportunity to work on an outreach project, and she is only available until August. With her short availability, any ideas would need to go forward very quickly. Her proposal needs to be ready by January. Tanya asked the board to go forward with any suggestions and get them to her very soon.
The BOC was thanked for the direction they are headed with our parks. The park’s board felt it was very important to keep up with maintenance, as in the long run it will save the community money. Laura asked the BOC about long term funding, if we can raise money, can they match from general funding monies. Janet said that should be included in the wish list portion with no promises, but it would be helpful to plan for the funding. The more attractive the improvements are for the community, the more favorable the funding could potentially be. Patti was very pleased to hear the outreach concerns for our parks. She was in favor of the long-range plans for funding as this will help set the course of action to help get things done, Jason’s idea was a great example of how community involvement helps. John was pleased that he had support in his local community from Sam. John then inquired about the BOC position on plans for supporting our Natural Heritage Parks. Sam responded, "the BOC is in support of preserving areas." Sam said, he is support of including these special areas but they have to be integrated into the whole plan, and not just a separate issue. Also asked, what is the county’s role on spending monies gained from grants and then passing it on to other agencies, i.e. Keizer Rapids. Janet said that she needs a clearer picture of what happens and you have to overlay the economic realities to make those kinds of decisions.
A Motion was made to close the meeting and set up a date for the next meeting. The meeting was adjourned. Next meeting, Thursday, Jan. 13th, 9:00 at PW Silverton Rd. preliminary agenda, review of Parks Commission By-laws, development of general fund wish list.
Minutes approved by Jeff Bickford