Cut the Gut Checkpoint at Sankey Nixed

It was revealed at the Park and Tree Committee meeting on Wednesday, June 19, that they will no longer host a Cut the Gut checkpoint at Sankey Park.

Two reasons were given for the change: consolidation of city-hosted checkpoints and logistics of vehicular traffic at the park.

Committee Chair Wally Shreves indicated there was already a city-hosted location from the police department at City Hall.

“So rather than try to hit two different places, we’re not doing Sankey Park,” he said.

City Manager Kelcey Young explained to The New Era that the Community Foundation and Park and Tree Committee planned to use Sankey Park together as a checkpoint, but it was later determined it was difficult, if not impossible, for cars to turn around at the location.

City Manager Kelcey Young talks to the Park and Tree Committee about a proposed playground structure at a new park. Photos by Sarah Brown

Ultimately, the plan at this point in time includes checkpoints at City Hall for Sweet Home Police Department, Park and Tree Committee, and Sweet Home Community Foundation.

“This is their first year having a checkpoint, so it was decided that grouping together at City Hall would make it easier and more likely to be successful,” Young said.

The Park and Tree Committee plans to use the event as an opportunity to solicit donations for the repair of Weddle Bridge and construction of a new bandstand at Sankey Park.

Shreves also noted during the meeting there’s a slight chance the Dahlenburg Bridge would be moved to City Hall by that time.

“That’s a hope and prayer; that’s something they’re working on,” he said. “That still makes a nice photography point for them.”

More than seven years ago, the public works director at the time wanted to remove Dahlenburg Bridge from its location at Ames Creek because it was being vandalized. The bridge was named after Ben Dahlenburg, who led the Weddle Bridge construction effort. He explained the Dahlenburg Bridge was built as a sort of practice round for Weddle Bridge.

Another pedestrian-sized bridge was built on a trailer to help solicit funding for Weddle Bridge and was later sold to a man in Virginia. That man later opted to allow the bridge to be placed at Clover Memorial Park in exchange for the bridge being named after him, “Whitmore.”

In other business, the committee:

  • Heard about a productive work party to remove ivy from Sankey Park.
  • Talked about the upcoming health fair set for Aug. 17. Committee member Bob Dalton talked about the health benefits of parks and urged the committee to campaign more on the benefits of parks. “It builds healthy bones, it builds healthy muscles, mentally reduces your stress and your anxiety,” he said. “I would challenge us to put up some posters on our tables to that effect.” Shreves added he recently read a report about an “epidemic of loneliness” and how being outside in parks helps break that. Young also chimed in to say there’s a direct correlation between number of parks and a city’s livability.
  • Heard a report on the committee’s participation in the Jim Bean Sankey Park. Shreves noted the committee’s relation to a safety fair is in regards to falling limbs and fire safety. Also, parks are available to help keep kids out of the street, he said. Young reported there was a large turnout at the event, and committee member Debra Northern said the new location was much safer than the former location at the police station.
  • Talked about the upcoming Harvest Festival set for Oct. 5. The committee will host a pie competition, as has become tradition.
  • Heard a report from Shreve about a training he participated in regarding Harper’s Playground, designers of playground equipment specially geared for children of all ages and abilities. He said the designs are not only inclusive for kids with disabilities, but also involve nature.
  • Heard from Young, who presented a proposal for Phase I of the new park on Osage Street and 42nd Avenue. “Because of some of the revenue we’re bringing in and the grants and the volunteering, this is going to be pretty much free,” she said. Young shared further phase ideas that may include play structures for wheelchair-bound kids, a sports court (possibly beach volleyball) and a trail.
  • Noted the council chamber’s new microphones and dais. Young said the wood was gifted to the city by Linn County Parks and was entirely made by the city’s Public Works team. “Normally a dais like this would be tens of thousands of dollars,” she said. “As it is, it was done in-house.”