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The Civic Solution

Growing south Eugene needs more park facilities

There seems to be an excellent option for the 10-acre Civic Stadium property: Use it to help expand the city of Eugene’s park system.

We have witnessed unprecedented residential development in the greater south Eugene area with an astonishing number of new multifamily and student housing units springing up. This pace of construction is resulting in a rapidly expanding local population. Unfortunately, public facilities and services are failing to keep up.

To accommodate all this new growth without compromising the quality of urban services for existing residents, the city needs to be providing more facilities. To maintain our park standards, the more residential construction we have, the more parkland we need. When a city fails to keep up with growth, services and quality of life suffer.

Eugene collects a development impact fee for parks that is supposed to expand the system as we grow. The city collected a record $2.5 million in park impact fees last year. However the central and south Eugene area that has seen the most growth has had little investment in new parks. Instead, the funds have been expended mostly in Santa Clara and Golden Gardens.

Our recreational facilities already look overburdened and lack maintenance. Amazon Pool has huge lines. Spencer Butte has become a “highway” of hikers on nice days and a slip-and-slide the rest of the year. City tennis courts are so cracked and battered one has to weigh the joys of playing tennis with the risks of a sprained ankle.

There is an immediate opportunity to help address the need for parkland and recreational facilities by acquiring the Civic Stadium site. If the School District were to offer to return this property to the city at cost, rather than trying to profit from it, the site could be purchased with last year’s park impact fees. The public supports this transfer, based on a recent survey (see Slant, 10/31). And there is little support for any commercial development at this site.

The city might look at creating an all-season, multiple-use recreation facility geared toward promoting the health and fitness of local residents of all ages. Perhaps the city could team up with the Y to help meet the community’s needs.

In terms of coping with growth impacts, it’s clear that Springfield’s Willamalane Park & Recreation District has done a great job of expanding parkland and providing new facilities. Maybe Eugene needs an independent parks district, too, that would focus more attention and resources on our parks and recreation facilities and act quickly when there are opportunities like the Civic Stadium site.