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UO planners say $417,000 required to spiff out Sankey Park


November 1, 2016

A draft concept plan for Sankey Park, prepared by the University of Oregon Community Planning Workshop, calls for more than $417,000 in improvements and updates.

The council will consider whether to adopt the plan at its next regular meeting Nov. 8. Community Planning Workshop representatives presented the draft plan to the council during its regular meeting Oct. 25.

Public Works Director Mike Adams said the organization had to make some minor corrections prior to final approval.

The Community Planning Workshop, which includes UO students and staff members, prepared the city’s Park System Master Plan in 2013. In 2015, it completed a concept plan for Strawberry Park after providing several opportunities for public input.

In a similar process, the workshop began the plan for Sankey Park earlier this year.

The process included a community meeting, youth surveys, the community Health Fair and seven extended phone interviews. During Movies in the Park events, members of the public voted on their favorite features on different concept designs, with 113 to 143 community members providing input.

"The Sankey Park Concept Plan is meant to be a companion document to the Park System Master Plan,” said Public Works Director Mike Adams. "It is a more nuanced design and development plan that addresses the physical and economic challenges and opportunities associated with the future development of the site.”

Summarizing current conditions in the park, the plan document noted that many existing site elements are in poor condition and require maintenance or replacement.

The site lacks a unified layout and has no defined pathways through open spaces. The trail system is disorganized, and many informal trails are redundant and poorly defined. Vandalism and litter are prevalent. The Works Progress Administration (WPA)-built gazebo and bandstand are in poor condition and invite undesirable activity. The cannon and pulley are of potential historic significance but are poorly placed, and information about their significance is not readily available.

The report also said that existing playground equipment is in relatively good condition, although poorly located. Parking is abundant, and water and electricity are present on the site. The bandstand and gazebo could offer shelter for programming if renovated, and they could be officially listed for historical significance, although that may restrict some kinds of renovations.

Weddle Bridge, which lost listing as a historic building when it was moved, could be relisted and could provide iconic event space with the potential for rental income.

Most access is from the west, according to the report. Connection to the high school has been closed due to undesirable activity on Weddle Bridge. Little signage directs users to the existing trail system, and the park has no sidewalk connection to the downtown area, although its proximity to downtown makes it easily accessible to residents.

The park has no "sense of arrival” or "face.”

The plan outlines a new vision and seven goals for the park: "The new vision is to revitalize the site into a safe, functional and active community space while retaining the essential character and historic nature of the park, minimizing cost and building upon the goals of the Sweet Home Park System Master Plan.”

The goals include the following:

- Address safety concerns and improve the overall perception of the park.

- Improve recreation and programming opportunities on site.

- Improve connections to the Sweet Home community and park neighbors.

- Improve circulation on site and create a cohesive relationship between site elements.

- Activate upper Sankey Park.

- Protect and foster Sankey Park’s natural habitats.

- Honor site history and culture.

The final design recommendations are intended to address one or more of those goals.

Major design decisions include the creation of a new main entry, providing convenient parking close to an expanded playground and relocated restroom. The entry hub would include a kiosk with a park map and information and access to paved and unpaved trails. It also would include a seating area in convenient view of the playground.

It would open up sight lines in Lower Sankey, including the removal of the modular home and relocation of the gazebo, restrooms and storage to open up views across the park and improve visitor comfort and safety.

The plan would consolidate and improve the trail system through the wooded area of the park, closing off poorly maintained trails and re-establishing native understory vegetation.

A paved central loop would connect major elements in Lower Sankey. Unpaved trails would circumnavigate both parts of the park.

Access would be improved by adding two pedestrian access points on the east side, across Ames Creek. The plan recommends a sidewalk connection to downtown Sweet Home.

Existing playground equipment would be consolidated near the main entrance. Based on community feedback, water play features, a basketball court and play equipment for pre-school aged children would be added. The existing BMX track would be renovated.

The plan includes continued restoration of Ames Creek, stabilizing the banks under Weddle Bridge and the eastern corner of the park.

The gazebo and bandstand would be renovated. The bandstand would be reinforced to prevent access underneath it and would be moved to a sunnier area to be used as an interpretive center and outdoor classroom.

New lighting would make the park less hospitable to illegal and unsafe activity after hours, and it would improve the safety of visitors after dusk and before dawn.

Most of the expense and the most visible changes to the park are included in the first of three phases, at an estimated cost of $339,000. The phase would include playground improvements, new lighting, paved trails, parking improvements and improvements to the main entry.

The second phase would include improvements to Upper Sankey picnic areas, trails and the BMX track. The cost of several actions on the list, including the BMX track and renovation of historic structures, were not estimated by the workshop. With those expenses not included, the cost of the second phase was estimated at $63,000.

A third phase, estimated at $15,000 or more, includes tree removal, creek restoration and interpretive signs.

The plan bases phasing on actions that are likely to affect park users and create community support and excitement. Placing the most visible features at the beginning of the project, "we hope to sustain excitement for later phases as visitors see and experience the tangible results of Phase 1.”


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