By Barbara Sherman, Tigard Life
Tualatin residents have a unique opportunity through the end of August to tell city officials what changes they would like to see in the 1983 Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which is in the process of being updated.
“This process gives us the opportunity to ask ourselves, what is the current state of our parks system, what do we want it to become and how do we get there?” said Ross Hoover, the city’s new parks and recreation director. “This will guide us for the next 20 years in providing programs and services, interacting with other city programs and services like the library and schools, and dealing with growth and maintenance.
“The process kicked off in the summer of 2017, and we made a big effort through social media, open houses and events at parks to hear what people had to say,” he added. “We worked hard to get as many opinions as possible and still are. This has led to developing different sections of the document, and we are almost at the end of the draft form.
“There are a couple pieces left, and we want to ask the public what they see as their goals and vision for the future. The draft is posted online and available at places like the library. People can write us or use social media or call us – anyway that works for them.”
The process seems to be working, as last summer more than 2,800 residents participated in the public involvement process, including 1,453 who did an online survey; 1,332 who engaged in one of 30 pop-up activities and 88 who attended one of 12 focus groups, according to the city’s website. The results helped city staff and their consultant identify priorities and needs for parks, recreation facilities, trails, natural areas, programs, activities and events.
Seven priorities or themes came out of the earlier public outreach process: 1) Parks and recreation are important to Tualatin’s quality of life; 2) trail connections and activities are a priority for community members; 3) there is a need for improved facilities and expanded sports;
And 4) residents would like to have a multi-use indoor facility; 5) community members asked for stronger, more inclusive communication from the city; 6) a greater variety of activities and programs are needed to serve people of all ages and cultures; and 7) community members highly value Tualatin’s natural resources and want more access to natural features, especially the Tualatin River, for recreation.
Some interesting statistics came out of the survey, including 93 percent who visited a park at least once in the last 12 months; and 92 percent who rate city parks as excellent or good.
“We are the stewards of the parks,” Hoover said. “The people own the parks, and that is why we want to hear from them while the master plan is still in draft form. We intend to adjust it and make the document reflect the desires and needs of the community.”
On July 23, staff gave a status report at a City Council work session, and the Project Advisory Committee met July 31 to discuss funding sources, project priorities and public engagement.
One last open house to get comments is set for Wednesday, Aug. 1, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Tualatin Public Library.
“This fall the final version of the master plan update will be done and reviewed by the Planning Commission and then the City Council,” Hoover said. “We’ve been checking with the council along the way, and each section is being reviewed by the council. We now have a good idea of what people are interested in and need, and the document will be updated periodically in the future.
“Some parks need updating, and we need to rethink others,” he added. “Parks have to be reflective of what people want. We’ll take the latest feedback and incorporate people’s thoughts and concerns. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to make comments.”
This is necessary because as Hoover pointed out, “Playgrounds are different from 20 years ago. For example, they are safer. We are making plans for each park and want to re-engage with the public about what details they would like to see. People in Tualatin love their parks, so what can we do to improve them? And we are working on the trail system inside the city and with our regional partners like Washington County and Metro to connect with trails outside the city.”
For more information or to see the draft of the master plan update, visit the city’s website or the Tualatin Public Library, the Juanita Pohl Center or city offices, where information also is available on all the different ways to make comments.
“Great things are happening,” Hoover said.