Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Government as Sugardaddy

We can't have it all.
But a person can dream.

We all want and need parks and natural spaces - there is no disagreement there.  We all know the opportunities for acquiring park land are dwindling as every buildable square inch of the city is built, and rebuilt on. What can and should be done to save some special land for current and future residents?

Unfortunately, the City of Lake Oswego cannot do it all.  Yes Virginia, there is a budget.

Every time citizens want to save a chunk of land like a Hallinan Woods extension, or a historic site like the Carmon House, they look to government to do the work and pay the freight.  Sure, parks and historic sites benefit the general population, but such could be said about dozens of requests for public funding every year.

The part that no one talks about when presenting their projects to the city are the ongoing costs of maintenance and city staff administration and management.  Volunteers are easy to find in the beginning, but after a time, citizens take their public spaces for granted and are satisfied to let others take care of a property.

The ongoing expenses of owning and maintaining public lands was one of the reasons the City Council gave when it rejected an offer of a FREE, forested stream corridor in Glenmorrie at the end of Poplar Way.  The property contains a historic stone bridge that connects to Marylhurst property.  Council members cited insufficient parking on residential streets, a location that would make the park more of a neighborhood park than a benefit to the city as a whole, ongoing maintenance costs (mostly ivy removal and trail upkeep), and the requirement that the city hold the land in perpetuity.  Only Jeff Gudman and Jon Gustafson voted to accept the property, the rest of the council said no - Charles Collins was not present.

I think the Council made a big mistake.  They are right to question every commitment regarding long term costs, and I wish they would do more of it.  The Poplar Way property offered by Cap Hedges, was - is - special.  This was a once-in-a-lifetime deal that won't come back.  After this, I can't imagine the City springing for any other park land or taking on another capital improvement project that isn't purely functional.  Perhaps this is correct, but many of us will be watching - what did the Council sacrifice for what they may choose to spend money on in the future.  

Pocket parks and neighborhood parks people can walk to are the big thing these days.  Palisades   neighborhood has nothing, Blue Heron likewise.  Evergreen uses city property behind City Hall, but it is not a park and they cannot count on the open space being open to use.

What about Hallinan Woods extension?

We can't have it all.  We can't afford what is being given for free.

Staff Report from City Council Meeting, December 6, 2016

Hedges Property and its History
The Hedges property on Poplar Way is a natural setting of woods, streams and critters - an amazingly quiet and bucolic retreat that embraces the visitor and feels soothingly isolated from the homes to its north and the Sisters’ campus to the south. With thoughtful improvement, the property could become an intimate retreat -- a nature sanctuary where folks can go to stroll in the woods, inspect the historic stone bridge, or just sit quietly in the shade of trees by the babbling streams to enjoy family and friends or simply read a book or meditate.

What is truly amazing is that such a spot remains on a long-abandoned portion of historic Poplar Way just minutes from downtown Lake Oswego. Glenmorrie’s neighborhood’s first road, Poplar Way was built by wealthy entrepreneur Parker Farnsworth Morey in the1880’s to serve the country estate and land development he named Glenmorrie. Morey, the founding president of the United States Electric Lighting Company of Portland (later re-named Portland General Electric), built Poplar Way to connect his manor house to Morey’s Landing (now a tiny beach on the Willamette River visible below River Road). Morey’s Landing was a regular stop for paddle wheelers transporting people and provisions from Portland to settlements below the falls.

According to Morey’s nephew, the late Herbert Edward Yates*, Chinese laborers from Lake Oswego’s Oregon Iron Company were hired to build the road and bridge. The base material for the road consisted of gravel and slag left by the iconic Iron Furnace in Rogers Park. The stone bridge crossing Gans Creek was built of Columbia River basalt, as was the retaining wall still visible girding the knoll at the southeast corner of the bridge. 

1 comment:

  1. But the City is "hot" to build a park at Iron Mountain (with Joe buck pushing it). Theyt say we have the money from SDC charges so we should use it. Yes, that is true. But we have do not have enough money to maintain the parks we have; how are we to maintain a new one?