The city of Corvallis is applying for state parks and recreation grants that would pay for upgrades to Central Park and Porter Park.
A $175,000 Land Water Conservation Fund grant, if awarded, would be used as part of a $450,000 project at Central Park. On the list of improvements are replacement of playground equipment and surfacing and installation of a fence around the playground. The remainder of the money would come from system development charges, the fees developers pay for public infrastructure required by their projects.
The fence idea stirred a bit of a discussion at the Feb. 20 City Council meeting at which councilors unanimously authorized seeking the grants.
Ward 7 Councilor Bill Glassmire said he didn’t see a need for fence and that he finds fences “unwelcoming.”
Ward 6's Nancy Wyse, who has two preteen children, advocated in favor of the fence, which she said could “keep kids from running away.”
Roen Hogg of Ward 2, which includes the park, noted that the Central Park Neighborhood Association had signed off on the fence plan.
Karen Emery, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, said that a fence is necessary for a “definition of space that is for children” and her staff report on the grant request noted that one of the goals was to “discourage illegal behaviors.”
The Corvallis Police Department, which Emery said was consulted on the project, has implemented three tactical action plans in the neighborhood surrounding the park in recent years. Such crackdowns require that officers focus extra attention on patrolling in the park and officers assigned to other duties must use “unobligated time” to assist in the effort.
The Police Department was responding to complaints about drinking, litter, camping, drug use and other illegal actions in the park. The police also have worked with Parks and Rec on crime prevention by environmental design analyses that are designed to look for ways to reduce crime by altering the landscaping and physical attributes of the park.
Parks and Recreation is seeking a $145,250 Local Government grant to pay for new playground equipment and surfacing at Porter as well as work to restore and make more accessible to the public Dixon Creek, which runs through the northeast corner of the park. Like the Central Park work, system development charges would pay for the remainder of the $323,000 project.
Emery said that she expects stiff competition for the two Oregon Parks and Recreation Department grants. She said she expects to hear the outcome on the Central Park grant by June and the Porter Park money by July. If the grants come through, construction could follow as soon as the summer of 2019.
“The competition is always high and as you might imagine, there are far more requests than funding available.” Emery said. “We’ve been successful in the past, but it simply depends on the scoring of the other applicants’ projects.”