Rec field complex plan advances

INDEPENDENCE -- Developers and city officials have settled on a final conceptual drawing for the North Riverside Project.



INDEPENDENCE -- Developers and city officials have settled on a final conceptual drawing for the North Riverside Project.

As part of the plan, a combination of townhouses, single-family homes and commercial buildings would be built on the upland portion of 66.5 acres owned by Olsen Agriculture in North Independence.

The concept was culled from input by city staff, Olsen representatives and citizen comments during three public workshops, the last of which was held on June 27.

Community Development Technician Shawn Irvine said this ends what was essentially a "feasibility study" to see what could be done with the land and to identify logistical challenges.

The city council will review the option at its August meeting and decide whether to proceed with engineering and design work.

The latest concept shows 13 acres used for 29 houses, a dozen "cottages" that share a parking area, and 38 townhouse units grouped into six complexes.

Two commercial buildings would sit off a new boulevard that connects to Highway 51. The highway access is envisioned to go through property owned by Clearspan Truss.

Irvine stressed that this is just a best-case-scenario aspect in the drawing. Clearspan has expressed interest in allowing use of its land, but there have been no decisions or negotiations.

"We don't want to secure access until we're sure we want to move ahead with the project," Irvine said. "Once we decide to move ahead, the access will be the first thing that will have to be nailed down because it will affect all other development."

Some residents rejected an earlier concept that included a subdivision with 60 to 70 homes. The new option has more buildings, but a smaller footprint, Irvine said. An oak grove on the parcel will be preserved in a neighborhood park.

About 50 acres of low-lying land would be used for athletic fields, plus a boat ramp and parking area.

There would be four permanent fields: two for soccer and two for Little League baseball. A large central area would serve as all-purpose space that could be configured into several soccer, baseball or softball fields by using portable goals and backstops.

Traffic and flooding were big concerns during the workshops, said Paul Paulowski, project consultant from Portland-based SERA Architects. Officials decided on using only one main access off Hwy 51, with a potential route for emergency vehicles connecting to Polk Street.

A traffic light at Polk and Main streets is also possible, Paulowksi said, noting that such a signal could be a future necessity for the city even if the project doesn't go through.

The potential for flooding is more complicated and would be worked out be engineers and hydrologists, Irvine said. "The state reviews all floodplain work to ensure that it (development) doesn't increase the likelihood of flooding above or below the site."

There is no timeline for completion of the project. Irvine did say that staff would probably recommend a decision by the city council this summer in order to seek a deal in which the National Guard would regrade the land.

Guard engineers cleared out the amphitheater bowl at Riverview Park as part of the federal Innovative Readiness Program four years ago, saving Independence hundreds of thousands of dollars in contract costs. Irvine said he has to submit an application by December in order to be added to a list of Guard projects.

"The (program) is in high demand," Irvine said "We could lobby to move up the list, but there is no guarantee they could do this by 2009.

Another variable is funding for the boat ramp. The city is involved in a biennial competitive grant process to secure funding for the facility from the Oregon Marine Board. Irvine has said Independence has good chance at getting money in 2009, but that it is not a certainty.

For more information on the North Riverside project: www.ci.independence.or.us.



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