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Town forum focuses on parks.

Byline: RANDI BJORNSTAD The Register-Guard

COTTAGE GROVE - Considering that the city's parks plan dates back 27 years, it's really not in bad shape, city planner Rachel Hewitt says.

But some things have changed in Cottage Grove since 1974 and officials want to know how people use city parks now, and how they'd like them improved in the future.

To help gather that information, the city will sponsor a three-hour workshop Saturday during which residents can stop by and share their views on their community's public open spaces.

Molly Simons, vice chairwoman of the Comprehensive Parks Advisory Committee, a citizen panel created to advise the City Council on future parks needs, said that when the committee began its work earlier this year, she was pleasantly surprised to learn how many parks already exist within the city.

Now the committee wants to know what types of parks residents want and what kind of overall system they want - "and maybe even ideas for how we can finance it," Simons said.

Cottage Grove has about 20 parks covering almost 188 acres that are scattered throughout the city but mostly located west of Highway 99, in the older parts of town.

The parks range in size from the East Regional and North Regional parks - each about 58 acres - to tiny Westend Park, about the size of an average residential lot. In addition, the city shares other facilities with the South Lane School District, which increases the amount of space and the range of activities available to city residents.

The city needs more park land in some areas, especially toward the south end of town around South Sixth and Eighth streets, Hewitt said. In other cases, it already owns land that hasn't yet been developed for public use.

A survey of city parks conducted last summer showed they contained 30 benches - 10 of them in Coiner Park and eight in six small "nodal" parks in the greenway along the Coast Fork of the Willamette River.

Coiner Park also boasts the only two drinking fountains in the city's parks, as well as seven of its 32 garbage receptacles. It has two of three city-owned basketball courts, with the other in Fort Harrison Park.

Only Coiner, City Hall and Prospector parks have restrooms. Half the parks have at least one picnic table.

From a planner's perspective, Hewitt said, the city "was really forward-thinking" in the 1970s when the City Council made land acquisition along the Coast Fork of the Willamette River a high priority. The acquisitions were part of creating a public greenway along the river the full length of the Willamette Valley.

"That same linear theme has carried through now to the Row River Trail, and those are two of our most important park resources," she said.

Not the best-loved, though, she acknowledged.

A survey of city residents clearly bestowed that honor on Coiner Park, a 7-acre parcel near downtown Cottage Grove and the city's first park site.

"Coiner Park was by far people's favorite in the poll," Hewitt said. "It was bought in 1909 and it's been the best park ever since - it's substantially smaller than the national standard of 20 to 50 acres for a community park, but it's got everything in terms of facilities. It's very well-utilized."

Augmented during the 1990s from its original 5.6-acre size, Coiner Park serves as the community's primary outdoor gathering place, host to everything from concerts and the Growers' Market to family reunions and the Bohemia Mining Days celebration.

Generally speaking, Cottage Grove's park inventory falls short of federally recommended acreages, "but those guidelines are just that - guidelines," Hewitt said. "The city has concentrated more on activities and maintenance than on the size of the parks."

If that's what the people of Cottage Grove value, then that's what officials want to hear on Saturday.

"We hope people will come and talk about the parks they use most, and why, and which are their favorite parks and how far they have to go to get there and what they do when they get there," Hewitt said.

"Once we understand their vision, we can start figuring out how to achieve it."

PARKS TOWN HALL MEETING

What: Community workshop to talk about what people like or don't like about the local parks system and what changes will be needed in the future.

When: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Where: 700 E. Gibbs Ave., Cottage Grove

Agenda: Historical display, public survey, public comment, slide presentation, open discussion.

For more information: Call city planner Rachel Hewitt at 942-3340.
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Title Annotation:Information gathering: Cottage Grove officials want comments and ideas on the city's parks at a Saturday session.; Recreation
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Dec 6, 2001
Words:758
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