INDEPENDENCE — Independence residents will get to weigh in again on the design of Sunset Meadows Park on Feb. 7.
And starting Feb. 20, they’ll get to help fund it.
Planning for the park started in 2015 with the Parks and Open Space Master Plan.
City staff applied for the Moda Assist program, a partnership between Moda Health and the Portland Trail Blazers, toward the end of last year.
“This is something that’s a pretty typical internal thing,” said Shawn Irvine, economic development director. “We know what the needs are and what the areas of interest are, so when an opportunity comes along, we just jump on it.”
Independence, Prineville and Baker City will compete for the grant by votes from Feb. 20 to March 20. Look for more information on voting in a future Itemizer-Observer and on the Itemizer’s Facebook page.
For every assist during Trail Blazers games, Moda and the Trail Blazers Foundation will contribute $20 to support building an all-abilities playground in one Oregon community.
As for the design of the park, an open house Jan. 17 and online survey gave people a chance to voice their opinions about what the park should include.
Irvine said more than 40 people showed.
The purpose was to find out, in general, what people are interested in having at the new park.
There was a lot of interest in nature play, Irvine said, rather than a traditional playground with a deck and slide.
“It’s one of those horrible ironies of modern-day life, that we’re creating fake forest playgrounds so that our kids can play safely,” Irvine said, with a laugh.
How people felt about lighting was not so black and white.
“There was definitely some mixed interest in lighting,” Irvine said. “There really are some pros and cons. If it’s lit, that sort of encourages people to be there after dark. Parks are closed, technically, dusk until dawn. Of course, this part of the year, they’re not going to run somebody out of the park at 6 o’clock at night.”
If there aren’t lights, a park is not nearly as welcoming, he said.
Irvine said the fun part about the January open house was that people brought their kids.
“I think it’s good to have the kids be able to talk about what they want to see, because they’re the ones that are going to be using it,” he said.
One of the things Irvine would like to see is a walking path.
“That was something else that people were interested in,” Irvine said. “Because there’s a connection to Mountain Fir Park and Inspiration Garden, we’d like to be able to continue that path with a hard surface all the way through Sunset Meadows Park.”
He sees the park as being a trail with little play areas, rather than one big play area.
“Of course, the other thing is I think it’s important to preserve open space,” Irvine said. “A green grassy area so you can throw a frisbee, set up a volleyball net, just run around. That’s something I was joking with the architects, you know everybody always wants to plan out every square inch of a park.”
The park space is long and narrow, so lends itself to a pathway, he said.
A paved path could help with ADA as well as stroller accessibility.
“As a parent I know this, strollers are very equivalent to wheelchairs in terms of accessibility,” he said, “much less walkers. You know grandparents wanting to get out there and be with the grandkids.”
Two designs will be shown at the Feb. 7 meeting.
“They will be very different designs, because the idea is to be able to compare and contrast,” Irvine said.
It’s a way to zero in on what makes sense for that park, he added.
The meeting is scheduled to run from 5:30 to 7 p.m., with a presentation at 5:45.
“We’re going to do more of a presentation, talking about the two different alternatives, and what’s different about them, and why and what the thinking was,” Irvine said. “If somebody can’t get there until 6:30 p.m., they can still come and we can explain to them everything that was in the presentation, just more in a one-on-one conversation.”
The target completion date for finishing the plan is March, he said, the Moda Assist grant will help with that.
“We wanted to finish early enough we can work with the city budget cycle to see if we can identify some sort of priority improvement and get some money in the budget for it,” Irvine said.
When & Where
The Sunset Meadows Park Meeting is from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Feb. 7 at the Civic Center, 555 Main St., Independence.