Oregon City Council last month voted 4-3 to purchase a 15 acre parcel off Pickle Road for a passive park.
The city bought the property, at 3521 Pickle Road, from George and Carrie Tschann for $195,000.
Councilmen Terry Reeves, Mike Sheehy, Clint Wasserman, and James Seaman voted in favor of the purchase. Councilmen Jerry Peach, Bill Myers, and Mike Seferian were opposed.
The city had considered buying the property in previous years, but thought the price was too high.
“It’s something we’ve looked at for a while,” Administrator Ken Filipiak said at a council meeting March 24. “We think it would make for a nice park. There are no immediate development plans right now.”
The property has over 2,000 trees, most of which are gum, oak and maple.
There is access from all four sides of the parcel, including pedestrian access off Pickle Road, he said.
“If there were any type of entryway, it would most likely come off Schmidlin,” he said, for vehicle traffic and a small parking area.
“But all of that is up for discussion in the future. The intention of this right now is to make it a passive park,” he said.
Council’s discussion at a previous meeting about the possibility of building a retention pond at the site to improve drainage in the area concerned Linda Apling, of Pickle Road. The pond, she said, could pose a danger to children nearby.
She was also concerned about additional costs to develop the property.
“They would have to take out a lot of trees to put a path in. I would imagine that’s costly,” said Apling. “One-hundred-ninety-five thousand dollars isn’t the end of it. I think it’s money better spent somewhere else.”
Peach said there were benefits and drawbacks to buying the property.
Barbara Lane, of Woodcrest Drive, was in favor of the park.
One of the reasons she moved to Oregon five years ago, she said, was because of the parks, walking paths and recreation in the city.
“I hate to see any green space go. I’ve watched Oregon grow by leaps and bounds since I’ve been out here. It’s a wonderful thing,” said Lane. “But once it’s gone, it’s gone. So I think we need to preserve it.”
Bill Schweizer, of Seaman Road, said he likes the idea of a retention pond to reduce flooding.
“It seems our rain comes two plus inches anymore. I’m not arguing for or against the park. But if the park concept goes ahead, we need to strongly consider some type of pond with the possibility of some type of retention, said Schweizer.
Peach said the city had considered buying the property twice before, but thought the price was too high.
In 1999, then Mayor James Haley had authorized the purchase of the property, which had been appraised at approximately $83,000.
“I think every member of council recognized that it was desirable to acquire that property if the price were right,” said Peach. “It had certain attributes that lent itself to a passive park. The 1999 price became the primary issue.”
The city took another look in 2002, when the property had been appraised at $150,000, said Peach..
“Mr. Filipkak has indicated the property is available and the opportunity to purchase it has presented itself once again,” added Peach. “In my view, there’s very little change, very little difference. There has always been that opportunity. The cost that the seller has demanded has always been a stumbling block, and continues to be a stumbling block.”
Myers, chairman of the Drainage, Roads, Buildings and Lands Committee, said the property would benefit the public mostly by improving drainage rather than providing green space.
“I seriously would want it considered for the retention part of it, which I think is as important, if not more important, than the green space,” he said. He wanted to know more definitively about the administration’s plans for the property.
Reeves said he supported buying the property because without it, the city can’t alleviate flooding in the area.
“Without purchasing it, we don’t have that option,” he said.
Seaman said the property would benefit people who live south of Navarre Avenue.
“They don’t really have any good park area. There’s a lot of residents who live out there. This would be something for that part of the city. That’s important. They deserve something. They pay taxes, too,” said Seaman.
“I cannot justify this purchase of the property,” said Seferian. “Not only is it the money initially that takes place. It’s the maintenance and upkeep thereafter when money could be spent on other projects.”
Seferian said he spoke with Haley, who had called him on the matter earlier in the day. “He was surprised it was here. He said had it come up before, and council had passed it, he would have vetoed it, thinking it was not a proper use of funds. He was very adamant.”
“If we didn’t have council, and it went to a vote by the people, I think it would be voted down fairly handily,” said Seferian.