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Park District petition on the clock for getting signatures posted on 11/01/2021

Clackamas County approved a petition that could pave the way for voters to decide the fate of a proposed Hoodland Park District on the May 17, 2022 ballot. The petition, in the works since before the coronavirus pandemic began, will now be circulated through the Mountain community as organizers hope to secure 1,000 signatures before the Thursday, Nov. 18 deadline.

“It feels very gratifying,” said Marci Slater, one of the organizers of the effort, noting the petition requires 788 valid signatures but they have a higher target to provide a margin of error. “We are looking forward to just getting it on the ballot. We want to get it on the ballot so that everybody has a voice in whether this goes through. I feel like there’s a lot of momentum in the community for this.”

The proposed district, which had originally been considered for the November 2020 election, would encompass approximately 20,000 acres, including the communities of Sleepy Hollow, Brightwood, Wemme, Welches, Zigzag, Rhododendron, Government Camp and Wapinitia, and feature a board of directors that will be elected on the same ballot. If formed, the district would receive three parcels along Salmon River Road gifted by Clackamas County, including the site of the former Dorman Center, which features the current community garden.

The district would develop the Dorman Center site as a community park, with possible amenities including a pavilion, playground, walking trails, extended community garden, bike pump track, skate park, dog park, space for farmers market, restrooms and onsite security. The district would be funded by a local property tax, proposed to be at approximately 67 cents per $1,000 of assessed value (resulting in approximately $200 per year on a house with an assessed value of $300,000).

Organizers and up to 25 volunteers were expected to begin collecting signatures at various sites throughout the community starting on Friday, Oct. 29 (a full list of sites and times is available at the end of this story). Slater added that she expects another 20 volunteers to be trained on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

A full copy of the petition will be on hand at every site, but Slater encourages people to visit www.hoodlandparkdistrict.us to read it beforehand.

Slater added that she was expected to take part in a Zoom call with the members of the Government Camp Community Planning Organization on Thursday, Oct. 28 to answer questions and concerns.

She noted that there is some resistance in that community to being included in the district’s boundaries, but that she hopes people there see the potential for the district developing recreational activities there in the future, as the district could acquire other land in the community (either by purchase or a gift) and secure different methods of funding (such as grants) to create trails connecting Mountain communities, an ice-skating rink or other amenities.

“I’m glad that they are paying attention and engaged,” Slater said. “This is really important.”

She added that if enough signatures on the petition are approved, the Clackamas County Board of County Commissioners will have a hearing where people can share their thoughts on the proposed district. If the district fails to form, organizers noted the parcels of land will be sold by Clackamas County.

By Garth Guibord/MT





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