The City of Tualatin hopes a new natural area will provide future residents and businesses of the 367-acre Basalt Creek expansion with access to the outdoors, create wildlife habitats and bring ecological benefits to the entire area. And they’re hoping future residents are the ones who help design the outdoor space.
Basalt Creek Canyon, the natural area within the expansion, is a 6.7-acre property stretching from Boones Ferry Road up and into the eponymous canyon.
Tualatin purchased the property with funds from Metro’s 2019 parks and nature bond measure. The bond’s local share program provides funding for cities and parks districts in the region to make investments in nature that matter to their local communities. Tualatin Hills Park and Rec District is using its funds on three park projects, while the City of Gresham purchased a forest that community members rallied to protect.
The canyon itself is an ancient geological formation created by volcanoes and is shaded by evergreen trees along the western edge. The natural area will not only provide access to nature, Tualatin parks and nature director Ross Hoover said, but creates an opportunity to connect across the canyon in a way that previously did not exist.
“Part of our duty is to ensure that connectivity, whether as a wildlife corridor or for people to connect and cross through,” Hoover said. “Metro local share dollars really provide that opportunity to create lasting and enduring connections.”
Just across Boones Ferry Road, a second Metro-supported project is underway.
Three proposed residential developments, including a Community Partners for Affordable Housing complex, will provide the area with hundreds of apartment units, and single- and multi-family homes. Once built, they will be connected to the park by a signaled crosswalk.
Metro is providing funds for the Community Partners for Affordable Housing's Plambeck Gardens project through the affordable housing bond measure, passed by voters in 2018. The development plans to provide 116 affordable housing units. It’s one of 35 projects Metro is funding across the region.
While each project has its own goals and timelines, the two project support one another. Planning them together was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up, Hoover said.
“Within the affordable housing bond goals, individuals and families that reside there need to have access to nature,” Hoover said. “Parks and nature goals also identify ensuring that our BIPOC community members and low-income individuals have access to nature. We saw this as a fantastic opportunity for Metro, for the City of Tualatin and our future residents.”
Currently, development on the natural area as well as the housing areas have yet to begin, but the city is hoping to use this time to create a process for a meaningful, community-led engagement process that will guide the building processes.
“This is our community’s land that we’re stewarding for the people of Tualatin,” Hoover said. “We’re looking forward to the day when we can help facilitate a community conversation about what this future natural area will look like and how our community members will want to use it and interact with it.”
As the city pushes out further into previously undeveloped spaces, Hoover said the city is always thinking about providing the best living experience. It’s a priority to include natural areas and places to get outside as spaces where health and wellness happen for both future residents and businesses.
“Creating natural spaces like this Metro-funded property creates significant benefits as we think about climate and climate change,” Hoover said. “We’re creating spaces of refuge for people, we’re ensuring that access for all is a top priority, that public spaces are inherently equitable spaces for everyone where everyone feels welcome. And that these are spaces where health and wellness happens.”