FALLS CITY — Upper Park in Falls City may soon have a unique feature to draw more people to town, thanks to a grant from Travel Salem: Tree houses.
The grant is through Travel Oregon’s Competitive & Recovery Grants program, and the city could apply for up to $100,000 to build the tree houses to enhance Falls City’s appeal to tourists.
“One of the ways to do that is to increase local assets and to make tourism easier and more appealing to the outside world,” said City Manager AJ Foscoli. “One idea that had been bouncing around, especially around the office with staff, was to take advantage of the fact that George Kitchen Park (Upper Park) is a really well developed park that by itself is an attraction. There are very few cities, I would say, around Oregon that have such a beautiful park within their own city limits where you can feel you are in a forest.”
The tree houses would be available for overnight rentals, which would both bring tourist to town and provide revenue for the city.
Foscoli said representatives from Travel Oregon said the city’s application has a good shot at approval.
“Though this does not guarantee acceptance of the city’s proposal, it does encourage staff that the direction that the city has undertaken to elevate Falls City’s tourism-facing impression as a travel destination is the correct one,” Foscoli wrote in a memo to the Falls City City Council.
The council met Monday evening to approve the application, which was due to Travel Oregon on March 31. It was approved unanimously.
“I absolutely love the idea of putting tree houses up in our park,” said Councilor TJ Bailey. “I think it would be absolutely amazing to get those there, for all reasons that you said.”
Foscoli said the design he favors is one that builds the tree houses around the trees to do the least amount of damage as possible. He said the city is looking for engineers who can provide such a design.
The city would build no more than five units with the grant funding, but most likely two or three. Foscoli said the units will have very few amenities – beds and a desk lamp perhaps. Guests would use the park restroom facilities.
The basic design may just be a starting point.
“If they seem to be very popular, I’m sure we could go back out to Travel Oregon and say this project turned out to be very successful. Will you help us again?” Foscoli said.