Metro will soon begin providing up to $5.3 million in funds for a trio of projects, including a new park, planned by THPRD, the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District. The projects are funded through Metro’s voter-approved 2019 parks and nature bond measure.
The projects are: the Willow Creek Greenway Boardwalk in Beaverton, Heckman Lane Park and Trail in the North Bethany neighborhood, and two accessible play structures in Bonny Slope and Rock Creek.
These are the first park projects funded by the bond measure’s local share program. The local share program provides funding to the region’s 27 park providers so they can make land purchases and build park capital projects that are important to their communities. THPRD provides parks, trails and recreation opportunities in a district covering Cedar Mill south to Beaverton and from Raleigh Hills west to Aloha.
Last year, Gresham purchased the 8-acre Shaull Woods with its local share dollars.
The local share program has been part of Metro’s parks and nature bond measures since the first was passed by voters in 1995. For the 2019 bond measure, each local share project must fulfill the bond’s racial equity, community engagement and climate resilience criteria.
MG Devereux, deputy director of Metro’s parks and nature department, said one of the guiding values of the bond is the importance of building or rebuilding trusting relationships with communities who have either not been part of government decision-making processes before or have been intentionally excluded from them.
“Those convos can’t happen overnight and ultimately they are successful when they are in dialogue and not transactional in nature,” Devereux said. That’s a new way of doing business in many ways for government and it doesn’t always happen quickly.”
The new criteria are guiding much of the information gathering, planning and design processes, THPRD planner Peter Swinton said.
“We’ve got many different communities and those communities ask for very different things depending on who you’re talking to or where,” Swinton said. “How we’re making decisions about that is through The Vision Action Plan that we did…we feel these projects align well with the priorities and spirit of the bond.”
The first project will move and replace a “well-loved section” of boardwalk on the Waterhouse Trail in the Willow Creek Greenery, part of the Five Oaks Triple Creek neighborhood in Beaverton. The boardwalk – simply put by Swinton as “a wooden boardwalk in a natural area” – needs replacing and as it stands, is not currently ADA accessible. The project will recieve just under $950,000 from Metro.
Using low-impact design principles and green infrastructure, the bond funding will allow THPRD to update the accessibility and move parts of the boardwalk out of the floodplain it currently winds through while maintaining the contemplative solace these natural spaces provide. They’ll also restore those areas of the floodplain where the original boardwalk currently sits to keep the natural area in its pristine condition.
The second of the three projects will build play structures at Bonny Slope Park in Bonny Slope and the other at the Rock Creek Park Playground along THPRD’s western edge. Similar to Willow Creek’s boardwalk, the existing two play structures will soon need to be replaced to continue serving their neighboring communities. These playgrounds will receive $1.7 million from the local share program.
With the funding from the bond, Swinton says, THPRD is planning a robust community engagement process to best design and build these spaces according to the vision of the community.
The third project, Heckman Lane Park and Trail, is the largest of the trio, and will build a neighborhood park in the North Bethany area that will serve the neighborhood’s rapidly growing community that includes many people of color. The project will make sure the area has walkable access to parks for families living in this southern section of North Bethany and will link both the families and the park with the community trail system that laces throughout THPRD. The park project will recieve up to $3.6 million in funding from Metro.
Bethany is majority people of color, and 40% of the community is Asian American. Swinton said THPRD is planning to use bond funding to work with the community to identity what they hope this project looks and feels like, and then turn that input into park design. Swinton cited the community engagement process THPRD piloted with La Raíz Park off SW Baker and Lombard as an example.
“That [project] looked at…engaging with communities that historically have not been engaged,” Swinton said. “With La Raíz Park, which is located in a predominantly Hispanic and Latinx community, we did a lot of work with community-based organizations to make sure we reached those folks with bilingual engagements, materials in different languages, met people where they were at, and offered vouchers and compensation for engagement because we know peoples’ time is super valuable. If they’re going to spend it with us, that's valuable for us. We want to work with these communities to find something that works for them."