SWEET HOME — City staff members and volunteers have been making improvements at Sankey Park for the last two years, using a long-term conceptual plan developed by the University of Oregon’s Community Service Center.

Now, community members are being asked to contribute money to be used as a match toward a $243,000 grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

Associate planner Angela Clegg said the city has $30,000 that can be used toward the matching grant, but that money likely won’t be available next year, which is one reason the push is on to meet this year’s April 1 grant deadline.

“We don’t have it in general fund or the parks budget to finish the park and make it like it should be, which is family-friendly,” Clegg said.

Clegg said other communities, such as Joseph, in the far northeast corner of the state, have used the parks grants to make marked improvements.

Clegg said that when she moved to Sweet Home nine years ago, Sankey Park was showing its age.

“It’s a beautiful park and we want to do whatever we can to fix it,” Clegg said. “We want to make it more ADA accessible, increase pathways and lighting, and fix up the playground equipment.”

Clegg said this is a multi-faceted community effort that includes city staff, the city council and numerous community members.

The funds will be used toward a $405,000 total goal that will pay for a number of improvements, including:

• Construction of ADA walking paths throughout the park

• Path lighting

• Playground equipment

• Weddle Bridge plaza construction

• Bicycle racks

• Signage

• Picnic tables

• Park benches

The funds need to be raised by March 27 since the grant application deadline is April 1.

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Donations will be tax deductible and should be sent to Angela Clegg, City of Sweet Home, 1140 12th Ave., Sweet Home, OR 97386. Donations must be marked Sankey Park.

Sankey Park is Sweet Home’s oldest and largest park. First developed in 1935, the park features mature Douglas-fir trees on two levels over 17 acres. It is located in downtown Sweet Home at 877 14th Ave. on Ames Creek and has numerous amenities, including a shelter house, Scout hut, grilling units and playground equipment.

Considerable work has already been done at Upper Sankey Park, including tree removal, pathways and initial stages of a BMX bicycle racing track.

The proposed grant will focus on projects for Lower Sankey Park.

Some projects have already been completed including removal of a modular home, thinning trees, making parking lot improvements, planting more grassy areas, and replacing an outdated restroom with a new concrete vault toilet system.

Estimated project costs include: pathways and lighting, $200,000; new and upgraded playground equipment, $150,000; Weddle Bridge plaza, $30,000; tables and benches, $20,000; bike racks/signage, $5,000.

In-kind donations will also be accepted, but those donations must go through the Public Works Department.

Last summer, the city announced plans to build a bridge from Upper Sankey Park to the Jim Riggs Community Center. The bridge would be 110 feet long and 6 feet wide, according to staff engineer Joe Graybill.

Estimated project costs came in higher than expected, so that project has been put on hold.

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Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.