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The Corvallis Parks and Recreation Department is moving forward on its next series of planned upgrades for city facilities.

Department officials unveiled their plans and discussed them at a meeting last month with the city’s Parks, Natural Areas and Recreation Advisory Board.

Key projects on the capital improvement plan drawing board include a pedestrian bridge over the Marys River that would connect the boardwalk at the Marys River Natural Area with the Caldwell Natural Area, and a $4 million reworking of Martin Luther King Jr. Park that is dependent upon extensive fundraising.

During the meeting board members, department director Karen Emery and planner Jackie Rochefort agreed to make one change, moving plans to upgrade Porter Park from the list of projects for the 2022-23 fiscal year to the 2021-22 list.

The department has been active in recent years, upgrading playgrounds and other locations at Franklin Square, Arnold, MLK, Lilly, Peanut, Starker Arts, Crystal Lake, Tunison Kendall and Cloverland, often using innovative mixtures of grant money and other funding sources.

“I am excited about the recent grants (the department) has secured,” said City Manager Mark Shepard. “Grants … help us deliver projects and services we would not otherwise be able to provide to our community. City staff in all departments are always on the lookout for grants and other funding opportunities to stretch what we can do for the community.”

Here is a look at the key upcoming projects:

2020-21 fiscal year

• Pedestrian Bridge: The project offers residents their first opportunity to experience the Caldwell Natural Area, a 33-acre swath along the river that was purchased with funds from a November 2000 open space bond approved by Corvallis voters.

No general public access to the property exists at this time.

The project will cost $650,000, with a state grant providing $242,500. Rochefort said the grant application was assisted by the possible connections between Caldwell and trails planned to be part of the South Corvallis Urban Renewal project. The remaining funds will come from systems development charges that developers pay for infrastructure and parks.

The city plans to extend the current boardwalk southwest to the river and build a bridge to the Caldwell side.

• Village Green picnic shelter: This project has an added bit of urgency: Parks officials recently had to close the shelter because, Rochefort said, “the wood posts have rotted to the point that they are no longer stable.”

The project costs $150,000, all in systems development charges funding.

• Cloverland tennis courts: The two courts at Cloverland will need to be completely reconstructed, including new surfacing, fencing, striping and nets. Rochefort said the department is evaluating whether to add a third court. The two-court project will cost $225,000 in general funds.

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2021-22 fiscal year

• Porter Park: Targeting improvements at the facility received backing from Ward 6 Councilor Nancy Wyse, who wrote a strong letter of support for city efforts to earn a state grant for the work.

Wyse, who lives within walking distance of the park and has two preteen children, noted “when we do visit Porter Park to play my children stare at the ‘chain net’ (for lack of better description) but do not know how to interact with it. When I push them on the lone tire swing it makes a noise equivalent to that of an angry elephant.”

The project is budgeted at about $290,000 and will be evenly split between systems development charges and grants.

• MLK: The department recently went through a lengthy master plan process, which came up with a $4 million redo that includes a community gathering area, trail and circulation improvements, a fenced dog park and a natural play area.

The facility is expected to see a strong increase in usage once the nearby 275-lot Ponderosa Ridge development comes on line. The project currently is in the street infrastructure phase.

The project, which will be completed in two phases, in 2011-22 and 2022-23, will be paid for by $1.5 million in systems development charges and $2.5 million to be raised by Friends of Corvallis Parks & Recreation.

“I am not aware of a project of this magnitude that has been funded through donations,” Rochefort said. “Karen Emery and the friends group are working with a fundraising professional and are taking the lead on this one.”

In 2022-23 the department also is supposed to spend an additional $195,000 in funds from systems development charges to cover the playground at MLK.

• Starker Arts: Phase IV of the upgrades at the park will add a permanent restroom that will be paid for by $325,000 in funding from systems development charges.

2022-23 fiscal year

• Avery Park: The playground is receiving a $500,000 upgrade, with the cost split between systems development charges and grant funds. Rochefort said that the department plans to schedule two community meetings to discuss the changes.

“Since Avery Park is categorized as a large urban park,” she said, “we would want to reach out to the entire city for planning meetings.”

• Village Green: In addition to the shelter work the park will receive a playground update that will cost $300,000, to be paid for by systems development charges.

• Willamette Park: A new playground also is coming for this facility, with the projected budget of $325,000 split between systems development charges and grants.

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Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-812-6116. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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