Funds from a November bond measure are being used to acquire parkland in the Thurston Hills. Property between 75th and 79th streets will become part of a ridgeline trail system.
Last November, voters approved a bond measure that will fund a number of projects aimed at expanding trails; preserving parkland around hillsides, rivers and streams; and conserving energy. "With the measure's passage, we will be able to significantly enhance our parks, trails, athletic facilities and natural areas," said Willamalane Superintendent Bob Keefer. Willamalane has made significant progress in the months since the passage of the $20 million measure.
The $20 million in bond funds will be used to:
• Acquire land for future parks and trails.
• Preserve natural areas, protect wildlife habitat, and protect water quality in rivers, creeks and streams.
• Develop new parks, trails and athletic fields.
• Improve and renovate existing parks and trails.
• Implement energy conservation projects at recreation facilities.
Quartz Park - Willamalane is partnering with Springfield Public Schools on a new park located east of Bob Straub Parkway and south of Quartz Avenue that will also serve as a playground for a future school at the site. Construction is nearing completion on a basketball court, separate play areas for older and younger kids, a sandbox, play field and more. The new neighborhood park will open this fall.
Willamalane Center for Sports and Recreation - Here we're installing two 12-foot outdoor bocce ball courts just north of the main entrance. Bocce (pronounced BAH-chey) , which originated in Italy, is sometimes called lawn bowling. Players roll balls at a smaller target ball within the confines of a large court. The game is popular throughout Europe and is becoming more popular in the United States. We hope to have the courts finished by mid-August.
Also under way at Willamalane Center, we're planning to construct two new synthetic sports fields and replace the synthetic turf on one existing field. The new fields will be used for soccer, softball, baseball, football, lacrosse and more. Other major improvements include a new larger restroom, picnic shelter, playground and basketball court. In addition, a new 85-space parking lot will be constructed. Look for construction in 2014.
Pacific Park - Willamalane has acquired a 3¼-acre private park in the Pacific Park subdivision and will redevelop it into a new neighborhood park featuring separate play areas for older and younger kids, picnic tables, accessible walkways, and a basketball court. Last month, Willamalane received a $260,000 grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to match and stretch the local bond dollars that will help develop the site into a first-class neighborhood park. Construction is planned for next summer. Short-term improvements are under way.
Splash! at Lively Park - Willamalane will make energy conservation upgrades to the 26-year-old indoor water park this fall. A new boiler and other equipment will reduce energy bills and improve air quality.
Thurston Hills Ridgeline - Willamalane has purchased 175 acres of parkland adjoining the 1872 Gray-Jaqua Homestead, between 75th and 79th streets, south of Highway 126. The property will include a trailhead and eastern portion of the ridgeline trail system. The district is in discussions with landowners to acquire another 300-plus acres along the ridgeline, which will preserve views, wildlife habitat, sensitive natural areas, and provide walking, hiking and mountain biking opportunities. Next steps include natural area assessments and site master planning.
Willamalane is working with the nonprofit organization The Trust for Public Land on a variety of bond projects. TPL works throughout the United States to assist communities with efforts to conserve land for people as parks and natural areas.
Watch this space for more updates on park development and conservation projects.