The Rainier parks system may receive an upgrade in the coming months, following the results of a community-wide survey.
Rainier Parks, Recreation and Education Committee members met Tuesday evening, Nov. 30, to discuss feasibility studies for three projects that topped the list.
Back in September, Rainier city officials mailed out a community survey to residents, asking for their input on how the city could improve Rainier public parks.
The survey supplied participants with a range of choices for future park additions, including a dog park, splash pad, exercise stations, hiking and biking trails, a youth bike park, and adult athletic fields.
Participants were instructed to submit their responses through a google form or drop off their completed surveys at City Hall by the Oct. 15 deadline.
Three proposals were favored by respondents, including the development of a Fox Creek Park, a dog park at C Street, and a mini-golf putting green at various locations.
According to Rainier City Administrator Scott Jorgensen, when it comes to the city developing public parks projects, community feedback is paramount.
“What I didn’t want was for the parks committee to go too far in one direction or another with recommendations just to have the citizens say, ‘Why are you doing that?’ You want to make sure that what you’re doing actually meets the demand,” Jorgensen said.
Fox Creek Park
The suggestion of building Fox Creek Park may come as a surprise to those familiar with the region’s periodic flooding, but according to Jorgensen, the Fox Creek area has plenty of recreational value.
“I think the primary draw there is the fact that there’s some trails that are already established and maintained by Friends of Fox Creek,” he said.
Jorgensen also acknowledged the difficulties in building on unstable land.
“When you have areas like that where there’s flooding, you can’t really do much in the way of permanent structures,” he said.
Despite the challenges, Jorgensen sees the potential for the park and how it fits in with what the parks committee is trying to accomplish.
“(Fox Creek Park) fits with kind of the overall vision of where we’re going. A series of trails connecting all throughout town that will enhance recreational opportunities, something that multiple people within multiple demographics can enjoy,” Jorgensen said. “A nice picnic table there, maybe a little bit of playground equipment to kind of act as a gateway to the trail system, that came up as something (the community) wants to see more of.”
C Street dog park
Jorgensen said establishing a dog park would meet the needs of a small town.
“According to parks rules, you’re supposed to have your dogs on leashes, but some folks take the dogs off leash and let them run around. It’s a constant source of conflict in small towns,” he said. “What a dog park enables you to do is have an area just set aside, folks can go and let their dogs run loose, but within a confined space.”
The dog park would need to be strategically placed in order to please all parties involved, according to Jorgensen.
“If you put (the park) where you want people to be able to walk with their dog from a residential area, but if it’s too close to a bunch of houses, the neighbors don’t like it,” he said. “Because there’s a bunch of dogs barking all the time.”
The area under the C Street Bridge is being considered by the committee as a possible location for the dog park because placed there, the park is still walking distance but not adjacent to residential properties.
Of all the ideas suggested by locals, Jorgensen said he wouldn’t have imagined a putting green for the city.
“That kind of took me by surprise,” he said. “There had been some talk around town and when the survey results came in, that was highlighted as one of those things that people would really like to see. And I think if you do it right, it could be fairly low-maintenance. You don’t want to go out and build a full on mini-golf facility the way a private company would do. Maybe just put a little putting area out there for folks.”
Rainier Riverfront Park, nestled along the Columbia River, is a central gathering point for locals and visitors and has a reputation for providing vast recreational opportunities.
“The whole idea here is that we already have a city park. And it’s actually a really nice city park. It’s well maintained, it’s pretty big. There’s a lot of different amenities,” Jorgensen said. “The idea was to try to utilize some of those other city owned-properties around town.”
Jorgensen identified how the addition of “pocket parks” can be an asset to a small community.
“There’s a little pocket park in downtown Lake Oswego. It’s pretty basic. There’s a basketball hoop (and) a little gym thing with a slide. There’s not much to it,” he said. “But if you live in that neighborhood, you just walk over there and use it whenever you want.”
In the long term, Jorgensen said he envisions an interconnected park system in Rainier.
“There’s times especially when there’s softball games going on, where there’s just a lot of people at the main park at the same time. And so ideally, what I envision is to have that park continue to be, and have some other smaller parks around town, (which) eventually gets to the point where you have trails leading to and from all of them to where you could ride your bike or walk from one to the other.”