The public can get a glimpse of the future of Chehalem Ridge next week, with three potential options for trails and facilities set to be unveiled at an open house Sept. 8.
Rising at the north end of the hills south of Forest Grove, Chehalem Ridge Nature Park used to be a 1,200-acre tree farm. Metro acquired the property in 2010, and started work restoring the area, which is almost as large as the city of Cornelius.
But Chehalem Ridge's breathtaking views of Wapato Lake, the Tualatin Valley, the Coast Range and the Cascades has been largely off-limits to the public.
Someday, Metro officials hope, that will change, and the public will be able to walk through restored oak, maple and madrone forests, listening to singing birds and babbling streams.
But how will visitors get to Chehalem Ridge? And what kinds of activities will be allowed at the park?
The next step in those discussions is Thursday's open house, which is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. at the Forest Grove Community Auditorium, 1915 Main St.
Karen Vitkay, a planner in Metro's Parks and Nature Department, said the three park alternatives are based around three options for points of entry to the park. One option is based around a northern point of entry, another is centered on a point of entry at the park's southern end, and a third option includes points of entries at both ends of the park.
Those decisions, she said, will help inform the placement of trailheads, which in turn will help guide where trails should go through the natural area. Planners will also discuss what kinds of activities and features should be offered at the park. Officials already plan to recommend that the park include options for mountain biking and equestrian activities.
"It's a pretty pivotal time for the project," Vitkay said.
Any decision on the park's future will have to come from the Metro Council.
Councilor Kathryn Harrington, whose district includes the cities of western Washington County, said she wants members of the public to talk about what they want in the park in the years to come – and to be mindful of what future generations will want as well.
“I’m excited about this open house because it offers three alternatives for every member of our community to come and comment on,” Harrington said Thursday. “Tell us what aspects of these proposals you think your family and future generations will appreciate at this valuable Chehalem Ridge property.”
The open house will include a staff presentation, posters, and opportunities to talk to Metro staff with questions or feedback. Material will be offered in both English and Spanish.
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