Lincoln City City Hall got some new faces on the city council Monday night – three new councilors were sworn in: community activist Deanna Hinton, Nelscott Neighbohood Association leader Judy Casper and bi-lingual teacher in Lincoln County Schools Riley Hoagland. The new Council President is Councilor Kip Ward who will preside over the council in the absence of Mayor Don Williams.
And with that the council plunged into a report on what new parks, open space and playgrounds are anticipated being built over the next 20 years in Lincoln City. Senior City Planner Debra Nicholson laid out a very ambitious vision for the amenities to be enjoyed not only by local residents but for the tens of thousands of visitors who come to play in Lincoln City throughout the year.
Nicholson said the plan is aimed at parks and recreation activities for everyone, indoor and outdoor, rivers, lakes and at the beach. Nicholson said Lincoln City is above average for open space based on the size of Lincoln City but below par compared with similarly sized cities for parks, playgrounds and sports fields. There’s a notable shortage of picnic tables around town at local parks. There are no parks at the north end of town to speak of. Even a shortage at the south end. The report emphasizes renovating the old Taft Elementary School site at the south end, along with a building community park – pocket parks at Agnes Creek and areas south of the lake. The Villages at the north end of town need neighborhood parks, picnic areas while Roads End could use a park enlargement complete with picnic facilities. Just south of there, the Kirtsis Park area could use some upgrades as well as the nearby Community Center.
At the old Taft School site the plan calls for more parking, more picnic areas and expanded lawn area, soccer, basketball, tennis, pickle ball and a covered facility for those rainy days that are all too common on the coast. A playground, nature play area, and a dog park round out the wish list in Taft.
At Roads End, the plan calls for a Roads End State Park playground, large picnic area, covered shelter and an interpretive trail around the nearby wetlands.
At D-River, especially at the Wayside, the plan calls for ADA access to the beach, repairs to existing facilities, including the restrooms, and a connection to a trail system on the other side of Highway 101 with a trail up the D-River to Devil’s Lake. The plan also contemplates a Devil’s Lake hiking trail that loops the whole lake.
At Kirtsis Park and the Community Center, the plan includes teen facilities and to enhance a skate park, a BMX pump track, walking track, dog walking areas, a New Teen Center near the Community Center and an expanded pool. But no wave facility.
Getting back to the D-River Wayside area, the plan calls for making that entire area more attractive for locals and tourists. The plan calls for walking trails up both sides of the D-River and a crossing of the river without using the narrow sidewalks on the 101 bridge. Also contemplated is what’s called a “Water Exploration Center,” fixing up bathrooms and walking paths along the D-River shoreline – and all connected to an east-of-the-highway parking lot to better serve visitors who want to visit the beach.
Back at the old Taft School site, there are plans to install pathways and bikeways on the east side along Schooner Creek and the new park. There will be Kayak and paddling center, a long boardwalk to the dock on the bay.
As for where all the money will come for these many millions of dollars of parks and open space improvements, there are numerous sources, according Nicholson. She outlined System Development Charges on any new home, apartment, hotel and motel room constructed over the next 30 or so years. Funds will come from the city’s general fund, hotel and motel room taxes, a possible bond election by the voters, memorial grants in the name of departed family members, state and federal grants and private-public partnerships, etc.
The council said it liked what it saw but would like to tweak the plan a little – here and there. The council will get a chance to adopt the plan, along with what looks like some minor refinements to it and a funding strategy going forward later this month.
City staff re-emphasized that it’s a plan – not a “for sure” blueprint. The plan is flexible to meet the the needs of the community and for the many visitors who come to the beach nearly year round.
The council is expected to officially approve what might be a slightly modified version of the plan within the next month – with heavy acknowledgement that the plan’s wide ranging series of public meetings produced a pretty good document that everyone can support. But again, some minor adjustments are expected.