Make the McKenzie Connection!

Park planning underway

BLUE RIVER: Interest in plans to rebuild the Blue River Park appears to be strong, judging by the 80 responses received to an online survey. Answers to some of those comments were the focus of a Zoom meeting hosted by the park board last Saturday morning.

During the meeting’s introductions, park board treasurer Tony Casad explained that it will take many years before the thick, forested park people were familiar with would be restored. Since the Holiday Farm Fire swept through the area, Casad said 225 unsafe trees had been removed.

In response to the damage, volunteers recently pitched in to plant native shrubs and plants and signs have been replaced, he said. In addition, water lines were repaired, signs were replaced and tables, along with the tennis and basketball courts, were cleaned, Casad added.

During the session Audrey Rycewicz, a student with the Masters of Landscape Architecture course at the University of Oregon answered questions about different aspects of a 15-page master plan she’d developed.

Among the things Rycewicz explained were removable posts, called bollards, that would restrict vehicles from driving into pedestrian areas while still allowing access for strollers or wheelchairs. Bollards, she added, can also be easily removed if emergency vehicles needed to respond to the scene.

Other discussions included different ways of dealing with storm water runoff and the creation of natural play area, a pollinator park and a meandering along the forest’s edge.

Rycewicz said those areas, along with plans to construct a pet memorial garden would offer quite zones for contemplation.

On the athletic front, the plans call for rebuilding the softball field and adding some spectator bleachers over by the basketball court.

Whether the ball field’s location and seating for outdoor concerts would conflict was also addressed. Casad said that the dirt pathway around the softball field would continue to be part of the park in the future. He saw no conflicts with seating for concerts and said people could easily put down blankets to sit on. Using those areas it was estimated up to 500 concert goers could be accommodated.

Presently, the park property is open to foot traffic, although access to the adjoining McKenzie River Trust Trail is closed due to safety concerns. It’s also likely signs will be posted warning people to stay off the steep slopes that border the park because of fire damaged trees that might still have to be removed.

Luckily, the playground area and equipment survived the fire, has been cleaned up and is open to the public.

People are still encouraged to go to to complete a questionnaire regarding the redevelopment of the park. It will remain open until the end February 20th.


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