Council OKs effort to procure $243,000 grant for Sankey Park


February 20, 2019

PARTICIPANTS in the Sweet Heart Run use the new walkway at Sankey Park, part of the ongoing park upgrades.

The Sweet Home City Council last week approved plans to pursue a $243,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation to help pay for several improvements to Sankey Park.

Based on community feedback, the University of Oregon's Community Service Center provided planning and technical assistance for a new vision at Sankey Park, 877 14th Ave., resulting in a new concept plan in 2016, city Associate Planner Angela Clegg said in a request for council action at its Feb. 12 meeting. "Sankey Park has been an iconic public space for generations of Sweet Home residents. The park's central location makes it readily accessible to members of the Sweet Home community and visitors of all demographics."

While the park provides opportunities for recreation and access to green space in the heart of downtown, Clegg said, "this comes with serious concerns of inappropriate park use and poor stewardship by park visitors. Longtime residents share fond memories of the site, while simultaneously noting concerns about the disrepair of current facilities. Issues of loitering and illegal behavior have caused concerns for residents who are apprehensive about bringing children, family members and visitors to the space."

Drawing insights from the community, the plan honors the park's past while looking forward and providing for the future, Clegg said.

The city began implementing the Sankey Park Concept Plan in 2018, which included the removal of a manufactured home, tree thinning, parking lot improvements, a new restroom and a new paved path.

City staff and the Park and Tree Committee created a seven-year grant plan using a capital improvement plan created by Staff Engineer Joe Graybill to plan future projects.

The Park and Tree Committee recommended pursuing the reimbursable grant to help pay for the projects, Clegg said. The city will need to provide a 40-percent match, $162,000, including a mix of cash and in-kind services.

The total grant project is $405,000, Clegg said. The city has already secured $30,000 of the match from its 2018-19 budget but will need to raise $132,000 in cash and in-kind matching. In-kind match includes Public Works activities like excavating the new path.

In order of priority, the project will provide all new playground equipment for one playground at a cost of $120,000. A second playground will receive $30,000 in upgrades.

The third and fourth priorities are new pathways, bollards and lighting and a cost $200,000.

Fifth is the Weddle Bridge Plaza at a cost of $30,000, an area of hard surfacing in front of Weddle Bridge on the old gravel parking lot.

The sixth priority includes tables and benches at a cost of $20,000.

Seventh, the project would install bike racks and signs at a cost of $5,000.

The Park and Tree Committee has formed a plan to seek community donations – cash and in-kind, Clegg said.

The grant deadline is April 1. Clegg said that if the entire match is not raised, then the project may be scaled based on priorities.

Additional improvements, including those in Upper Sankey, are scheduled for later phases.

Among future improvements, the Park and Tree Committee is looking at turning the BMX track into a paved "pump track," as well as other options, Clegg said.

City Manager Ray Towry said Ephrata, Wash., his hometown and former employer installed such a facility while he worked there, and it was very popular.

Making the track blacktop would get children up there using it, said Councilor Dave Trask, and with more tables and other amenities in Upper Sankey, he thinks it would get more use.

Upper Sankey is located at the south end of the park on top of a hill.

"We want this to be our flagship park," Clegg said.

A lot has been done already, said Mayor Greg Mahler. "I think the council is fully committed on that park."

Present and voting to apply for the grant were Cortney Nash, Susan Coleman, Lisa Gourley, Mahler, Diane Gerson, James Goble and Dave Trask.

In other business, the council:

- Adopted updates to the city's Title VI plan, which was last updated in 2015. The updates allow the city to receive grant funds that pay for the Sweet Home Senior Center's Dial-A-Bus program. The federal government requires grant recipients to have a Title VI to ensure that no person is denied service based on race, color, sex or national origin.

The Federal Transportation Administration provides $135,000 annually to fund the Dial-A-Bus program.

- Approved an update to the city's personnel policies, increasing meal reimbursement from $12 to $15. Towry said the change was intended to be but inadvertently not included in the update approved recently by the council.

- Approved the surplus and sale of various vehicles from the Police Department and Public Works, a 2012 Dodge Charger patrol car with 124,700 miles; a 2008 Chevrolet van with 91,833 miles and a blown head gasket; a 2005 Chevrolet Impala patrol car with 109,182 miles; a 1993 Ford Ranger Xcab XLT with 239,881 miles; a 1993 F350 Diesel with 98,076 miles; a wrecked 2003 Ford Ranger; and an aluminum Merritt log truck headache rack.

In most cases, the vehicles are beyond their useful life, experiencing mechanical issues or no longer used, said Police Chief Jeff Lynn. Several will not be replaced.

- Approved the expenditure of $1,275 to ATEZ Environmental Remediation for an asbestos evaluation on the old Sankey Park restrooms and the city's buildings at 1730 9th Ave.

ATEZ will test for asbestos, a requirement prior to the demolition of the restroom, Graybill said. If asbestos found in the 9th venue buildings on property the city is attempting to sell, city officials believe that removing the buildings would reduce the anticipated expense of any new buyer.

- Approved a plan to split the Police Department's Community Services Officer position into two part-time positions.

In the plan, the Community Services Officer will move to .5 full-time equivalents from .4 FTE, while the remaining portion of the position, "communications specialist," will remain at .6 FTE. Funding for the CSO position will be through the Police Department, while the Communications Specialist will be covered by the General Fund.

- Reviewed proposed updates to the city's investment policy and its fee schedule. Among proposed fee changes are increases to land use and building fees. For example, annexation and rezoning will increase from $1,500 to $1,545 and a conditional use permit will increase from $600 to $615.

It also includes new fees for the use of the Outdoor Event Center, the Sankey Park bandstand and the Sankey Park gazebo, $15 per hour or $100 maximum, which is the same as the Girl Scout hut at Sankey Park. The Weddle Bridge fee will change to match the fee structure. It currently costs $50 to rent Weddle Bridge for an event.

The schedule adds fees for equipment, such as tables, chairs, barricades, traffic cones, construction signs, safety vests and hydrant wrenches.

Reinstating water service will increase from $32 to $40. Passport fees will increase from $25 to $35.

Most of the city's fees remain unchanged in the proposal, which will require council approval to take effect.


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