Parks upgrades total nearly $1 million

Scott Swanson

Of The New Era

A brand new boat ramp on Foster Lake, extensive renovations at Clear Lake, new dock facilities at Sunnyside, a new bridge at Lewis Creek and a playground at River Bend were among the improvements completed in the Linn County parks in time for the Memorial Day weekend.

Parks Department staff members and contractors had an eventful winter, dealing with the deepest mountain snowfall in 40 years and completing nearly $1 million worth of improvements and upgrades to the county’s 23 park and recreational facilities.

“It’s been a real busy year for us,” said Operations Supervisor Richard Frick, who oversaw the work.

Parks Director Brian Carroll said the department has spent between $2.5 and $3 million in East Linn County alone over the past decade.

He said a big focus in recent years has been to improve the system’s boating facilities.

“Over the past six years we have basically replaced or renovated all the boating facilities on Foster Reservoir,” he said. “Hopefully, next year we’ll move up to Green Peter and do the same thing there.”

Under Carroll’s leadership, the department has been successful in getting a variety of grants for much of the work that has been done, particularly money from the Oregon State Marine Board.

Calkins Boat Ramp

The new boat ramp was begun in August and completed last winter with some $750,000 in funding from the Marine Board and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates Foster Lake.

Calkins, located at the intersection of Highway 20 and Quartzville Road, on the southeast end of Foster, provides access to a popular area of the lake near the bridges.

“A lot of people like to hang out by the bridge,” Frick said. “Now they can just get in and out there.”

Part of the parks Master Plan, Calkins was put in to take the pressure off Sunnyside and Gedney Creek boat ramps, he said.

“At Sunnyside, on any hot weekend, we’ve had to shut the boat ramp down at 10 o’clock in the morning,” Frick said. “One in, one out. Hopefully, people won’t have to get up at 6 a.m. to get out there.”

Clear Lake

The heaviest snows in 40 years made work on the county’s newest park difficult last winter, but staff members were able to completely remodel two of the historic cabins, as well as make improvements to other facilities at the resort.

Workers had to carve deep trenches in snowbanks that were higher than the cabin roofs to get inside to do work.

“It’s amazing how much stuff we got done up there, considering how much snow there was,” Carroll said.

In addition to complete remodels for Cabins 7 and 8, staff members installed new countertops at the lodge and repainted the interior. Carroll said staff also completed work on the water and septic systems to bring them into compliance with environmental protection rules.

“We’re currently working on getting some federal funding to get our generators and diesel tanks away from the lake,” he said. “Anybody interested in writing a letter to let their senator or representative know, we’d be appreciative.”

Carroll said Clear Lake was open through the middle of January, when 6 feet of snowfall in 10 days finally forced it to close.

The resort’s popularity was evident in that most of the cabins were occupied on weekends through December and all of them were booked for Valentine’s Day – though they all had to be cancelled due to snow. Throughout the year it has averaged 50 percent occupancy, he said.

“I knew we would have a learning curve, but with the deepest snow in 40 years, it’s been a pretty steep learning curve,” he said.

Lewis Creek Park

The 155-foot-long pedestrian bridge at Lewis Creek Park was removed and rebuilt over the winter and new boat floats are next on the agenda.

The old bridge was deteriorating and was closed last year, Frick said. Staff replaced the entire bridge, from the glue-lam beams to the planking and railings.

“It was built in the early 1970s,” he said. “It actually lasted a long time.”

The county was able to replace the bridge for $25,000, doing the work in-house and using money from the department’s repairs and maintenance budget, Carroll said.

“For a bridge that big, that’s good,” he said.

He said that the county has recently gotten a $95,000 grant to replace the aging docking facilities at the lake.

River Bend

A new playground was installed last fall next to the play field at River Bend Park, using $35,000 from recreational vehicle licensing funds. The equipment includes a slide and various climbing apparatus, including a climbing wall.

“It’s part of the plan for the park,” Frick said. “It will give the kids a place to play, to hang out.”

The playground complies with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and is surfaced with spongy rubber tile instead of the more traditional wood chips.

“It’s expensive, but it’s a one-shot deal,” Frick said. “We don’t have to go back and resurface it every year and it allows water to drain.”

Staff members also limbed the surrounding trees so that the playground can be viewed from various angles for security reasons, he said.

River Bend is well on its way to being complete with 45 of an eventual 90 planned campsites installed.

“It came out real sweet,” said Frick, who has been involved in the planning and construction since the beginning. “I’m real excited about doing the other half.”

That will include group areas, more pull-through campsites and more individual sites. The park currently includes an RV dump and two reservable picnic shelters, one enclosed and with a fireplace.

Carroll said that the department has money budgeted for construction of cabins or yurts at River Bend and he expects that to begin in the next year.


The Oregon State Marine Board helped fund new boarding floats to replace the old ones at Sunnyside Park and the Parks Department remodeled the restrooms, adding new shower stalls in each.

The old floats, installed in 1989, were in poor condition and the new ones will increase the dock capacity by 40 feet on each side of the boat ramp, Frick said. The 14 floats, seven on each side, provide a total of 280 feet of dock, 140 on each side.

“It will really enable a lot more people to use that ramp at the same time,” he said.

Carroll said that the job was done with Marine Board funding and the county was able to do it for approximately $40,000 under the $150,000 budget.

Sunnyside is the lake’s only low-water ramp, though the floats will not be useable during the winter when the lake is down. Foster is usually raised to full capacity in mid-May and stays up until mid-October.


The county replaced some picnic tables over the winter at Waterloo and a volunteer group is working to install a disc golf course at the park. Carroll said that the first nine of a planned 18 holes had been installed as this guide went to press.

Whitcomb Creek

The department is working with the Oregon Department of Forestry to thin trees and brush at Whitcomb Creek, to reduce fire danger.

Carroll asked visitors to bear in mind that that work may be going on during the summer and to watch out “for the people doing the work out there.”