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Town hall highlights plan for Hoodland Park District posted on 03/01/2020

The Hoodland Women’s Club hosted a town hall meeting on Saturday, Feb. 22 at the Mt. Hood Oregon Resort to present plans for the creation of a Hoodland park district to fund a new park in Welches. The meeting was attended by approximately 50 people.

The women’s club intends to circulate a petition and gather 750 signatures, or fifteen percent of the 4,886 registered voters in the proposed park tax district, to qualify the initiative to appear on the ballot in November 2020.

Clackamas County Commissioners Jim Bernard, Ken Humberston and Martha Schrader attended the town hall in support of the creation of the park district.

“Your vision is to have children playing in a park. That’s one of the most beautiful visions you can have as a citizen,” Schrader said about the development of a community space at the site formerly occupied by the Dorman Center across from Welches Schools.

The creation of a Hoodland Park District will allow Clackamas County to gift the deeds of three parcels of land along Salmon River Road, including the Dorman Center site and the current community garden space, to the district for the formation of a park.

If the district is not passed on the November ballot the land will be sold by the county for development.

“Now is the time to preserve and protect lands and assets in your community,” Humberston said. He cited population growth in the county and an increase in related development as factors that will limit the availability of land for public spaces. “It’s not like you’ll get a second bite at the apple. It’s beneficial to you and future generations.”

Park District Committee Co-Chair Marci Slater stated the new district will be funded by a property tax of $0.54 per thousand dollars of assessed property on homes located in the park district. This rate represents an estimated annual assessment of $165 on a $300,000 home and will provide the district with an estimated budget of $500,000 beginning in 2021.

“Your local tax dollars will stay local, and not be managed by the county or state,” Slater said. “The district will provide the community with a vehicle to form its own recreational spaces.”

Slater stated the majority of the funding for the park will come from grants and low-interest loans the community will become eligible for with the formation of the new district.

Park district committee member Bonnie Hayman emphasized the value of the land promised by the county, citing the purchase of similar acreage by the City of Bend for the development of a community park for $1 million. She stated the in-kind land donation would qualify the district for grants it would not otherwise have access to.

“The tax base in the district is absolutely necessary to get (the park) started. It is the heart but not the muscle that will drive the project forward,” said park district committee member Cyndi Dyal about the role grants and other sources of financing will have in funding the park.

Community members in attendance raised concerns about parking, traffic, insurance costs and potential for drug and criminal activity associated with the new park. Some questioned the need for an additional park with existing assets such as Wildwood Recreation Site in the community. Others voiced concern over what type of development would occur if the plots were sold by the county.

Many in attendance voiced support for the proposed district stating the benefits the infrastructure will bring to the community.

“You may not be using the park, but you’re still benefiting as part of the community,” said Tamara Lundberg, a resident of Sandy who owns a second home in the proposed district.

Park district committee member and legal counsel Gary Linkous stated that from preliminary polling the committee had received enough positive community response to move forward with attempting to get the initiative on the ballot in 2020.

Linkous added that the county has been a great resource for the formation of the district. “The county has basically told us, ‘If you want us to help you, we’ll show you how to play in your community and we’ll give you the land,’” he said.

Residents of the park district will also vote on candidates for the Park District Board on the November ballot. The board will manage park development projects, the district budget, apply for grant funds and determine from community input the facilities available at the new park.

For more information about the park district, visit www.2020parkvision.org and www.hoodlandwomensclub.org.

By Ben Simpson/MT




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