Oregon City Council on Monday will consider purchasing 15 acres of land off Pickle Road for $195,000 to make into a passive park.
The property is owned by George and Carrie Tschann, of 3521 Pickle Road.
Mayor Marge Brown said the city has been interested in buying the property for the last 10 years. Officials met with Tschann, she said, “but couldn’t get him to come down on price.”
“We’ve just been back and forth a little bit at a time, talking to him,” she said. “It’s a piece of property that we’ve always been interested in for a very passive park.”
Don Charlton, of the Tree Commission, said the city lacks parkland south of Navarre Avenue.
“This area has a sense of purpose for the city. We’re a tree city. If it was purchased, it would be an area that would not be able to be developed, and it would provide a green area for the city. It has natural beauty.”
Charlton said there are about 2,000 trees in the property. “I’ve inventoried them at least twice. Most of them are either gums, oaks or maple,” he said.
The property could serve as a nature center for Coy School. “Students could easily walk to that area,” he said.
“It’s just a quiet place, a place to get away, has a lot of beauty. It would give a lot of recreation to the area’s residents,” he said.
If the city does not purchase the property, would property with similar attributes be available, he asked.
“There will be property available, but with that amount of tree development, it would be a long time before it would catch up,” he said.
“It would prevent housing development, which has been suggested. That could be a plus or a minus,” he said.
Drawbacks include the cost of the property, said Charlton.
“What would the money be used for otherwise? Plenty of things it could be spent on,” he said. The property, he added, would certainly benefit southwest Oregon.
There will also be ongoing mowing and tree maintenance costs, he said. And it would attract vandalism and loitering, a common problem in parks everywhere, he said.
“Once it’s gone, it’s gone. But by the same token, there’s a lot more to it than might first meet the eye as to what might be involved in a park,” said Charlton.
Administrator Ken Filipiak agreed with Charlton that the property is unique.
“You have to acknowledge that this sits in the middle of a very highly concentrated residential area,” said Filipiak. “Ten residential subdivisions are within a half mile of that property, so it makes it very accessible by foot for a lot of the kids and adults.”
Another advantage is that there is access from all four sides of the property, said Filipiak.
“If you look around town to the south and west end, where you see heavy concentrations of residential development, it would be very unusual for you to identify a parcel quite like this that has the maturity and growth, and is so accessible to so many people,” said Filipiak.
The property, he said, is valued at $13,000 per acre. When it was appraised in August, 2002, the property was valued at $10,000 per acre.
“We have not had that reappraised. But it’s certainly not out of line with what we have been willing to pay for parkland property when we have purchased residentially zoned property and farm property in recent years,” he said.
“We appreciate the cooperation the Tschann family has shown throughout the years. I know at one point they’ve listed this property for a considerable amount more,” said Filipiak.
The Tschann’s would like council to include a memorial for former Fire Chief Ward Ensign and the contributions of the fire department, said Filipiak.
“The mayor herself has indicated that it would be nice to remember Mr. Tschann in some way as well,” he said.
If a pond was added to the site, it could be used as a retention area for drainage issues, said Filipiak.
Councilman Bill Myers, chairman of the Drainage, Roads, Buildings and Lands Committee, said the property could provide improved drainage to the older neighborhoods.
“If we’re going to acquire new land, it should be combined with the glaring need for regional retention that we need so desperately because we can’t get enough drainage improvements done fast enough. We need to work on all fronts,” said Myers.
“It could provide a lot of relief to the area until something gets improved downstream on the Lallendorf storm sewer,” said Public Service Director Paul Roman.
Council will vote on the proposed purchase of the property at its meeting on Monday.