City seeks grant for park land

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home City Council passed a resolution last week to pursue a grant from the state to help pay for new park land in eastern Sweet Home.

The decision authorized Planning Services Manager Laura LaRoque to apply for a State of Oregon Local Government Grant.

LaRoque plans to request $42,000, she said.

“We have to identify the property,” LaRoque said. “As soon as we know we have the money, we’ll take a look and see what’s available.”

After that, the city will approach the owners of potential park property, she said.

“Essentially, it’s going to be open space at first,” LaRoque said, and the city will develop it over time.

The grant funds would help the city make sure it’s ready when an opportunity arises for land acquisition, she said.

According to the Parks Master Plan approved in 2014, Sweet Home has a need for open space and park space on the east end, LaRoque said. At this point, the only space in the eastern part of the city is Hobart Park, which is a specialized donated space where development is constrained and meant to remain open and natural.

Wiley Creek Park in Foster is owned by the U.S. Corps of Engineers and is not a city park, she said.

The city will seek property that can be developed with a playground and a more traditional park as the population grows, LaRoque said.

In general, the recommendation for park space is for five acres per 1,000 population, LaRoque said. Currently, Sweet Home has 26.5 acres of parkland, not including Hobart Park, which is a specialized use area, and the Skate Park. By 2028, the population is expected to exceed 10,000, requiring more than 50 acres of park land.

In January, the Parks Board recommended that the council support an application to the state for the grant, LaRoque said. The council agreed to support the application in February, but a condition of the grant was a formal resolution by the council.

Present at the meeting were councilors Greg Mahler, Bruce Hobbs, Jeff Goodwin and Mayor Jim Gourley. Absent were Marybeth Angulo, Dave Trask and Ryan Underwood.

On Tuesday, the council designated, by resolution, public right-of-way in Evergreen Loop and the former bus stop at 12th and Nandina as public parks. That action came in response to a Parks Board recommendation in March that the council take that action.

No one realized they weren’t already officially designated as parks, LaRoque said. They were identified as parks in the Master Parks Plan, but the council never passed resolutions declaring them city parks.

Both are identified as “mini parks,” parks with less than 1 acre.

“Mini parks add activity and character to neighborhoods and may be an appropriate space for neighborhood gatherings,” LaRoque said. “These areas have been utilized for passive recreation for many years. Formally designating these areas as parks will enable the city to enforce park ordinances and carry out the appropriate level of service.”

In other business, the council:

n Presented a certificate of participation to the Patton Family Crew for adopting the Skate Park as part of the city’s new Adopt-A-Park Program.

n Passed a resolution creating a new special revenue fund, Special Events, in its operating budget.

The fund is used to recognize specific events where the city receives contributions, sponsorships and participant registration fees, with the understanding that the events would be self-supporting and that the proceeds are used to pay for dedicated programs, said Finance Director Pat Gray. As an example, the February Sweetheart Run was a fund-raising event for the city’s Summer Recreation Program.

“As staff explores other options to find funding for programs, this fund would be useful to track financial outcomes and account for dedicated sponsorships and donations,” Gray said.

n Entered a one-year contract with Grove, Mueller, Swank, PC, for auditing services for an amount not to exceed $25,000. The city has contracted with the firm since 2001.