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Metro award to go toward Hall Creek renewal


Stream restoration to improve aesthetics and water quality

by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Leigh Crabtree talks about the improvements the city of Beaverton is planning for Hall Creek to make the stream cleaner and the banks more walkable.

Save for a few stretches where relatively clear water gently cascades over mini-rapids, Hall Creek between Southwest 114th and 117th avenues these days is not much to look at. That is, if you notice it at all.

Shrouded in overgrown vegetation in an eroded gully behind a car dealership, Hall Creek is one of several urban streams that got lost - as Beaverton rapidly evolved from a mid-20th century outpost to a bustling commercial hub - in the march of progress.

A $354,304 Nature in Neighborhoods capital grant the Metro Regional Government Council just awarded the city will likely go a ways toward restoring the stream and incorporating it as an attractive natural amenity for Central Beaverton.

The grant will help fund restoration of a 650-foot section of the creek, bound on one side by the Carr Subaru dealership and on the other by an asphalt pathway by the Lynmarie Apartments. Part of Beaverton's Civic Plan, the Hall Creek Water Quality and Pathway Enhancement Project seeks to realign the creek and adjacent trail, remove invasive-species plants, stabilize the bank with native plants, remove impervious surfaces and create bioswales to regulate and filter storm runoff and improve overall water quality.

The Nature in Neighborhoods grant, funded through the region's voter-approved natural areas bond measure, will also go toward creating better wildlife habitats, increased flood storage and provide a safer trail for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Planners in the city's Community Development Department will work with five property owners who provided easements to the city to facilitate construction and maintenance of the Hall Creek area. Smaller improvements could start as early as this fall with primary construction slated to begin in 2014.

"We're going to be cleaning it up and making it more active and attractive so it will be a more visually pleasing place to be," said Leigh Crabtree, associate planner in the department, on a recent tour of the project area. "It will be a great amenity, not just for property owners, but a place for the community."

Regulatory agencies including Clean Water Services, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency will also be involved in the process.

"It's going to take some work with the property owners and engaging with the community," Crabtree said. "We'll be balancing all those and working with the regulatory agencies in getting to a constructible solution."

Some of the project's planning and work will be streamlined with the Creekside District Master Plan, which focuses on a 24-acre area downstream near the confluence of Hall, Beaverton and Wessenger creeks. Funded by a $1 million Housing and Urban Development grant and about $1.5 million from other sources, that plan will create a mix of affordable housing, efficient transportation and sustainable infrastructure projects in the vicinity of The Round at Beaverton Central complex on Southwest Millikan Way.

As the Hall Creek project takes shape, the view upstream of the creek from the 117th Avenue bridge will change considerably. To better accommodate flow and periodic flooding events, the stream will be realigned to replace inwardly eroded banks with gentle slopes. A pervious pavement walkway will replace the existing cracked asphalt path, surrounded by basin-like swales designed to absorb as well as filter runoff and floodwater.

"This view has the potential to change a lot," Crabtree said looking east from the vehicular bridge. "We expect to be implementing this with native vegetation and swales to tie it all together. (Hall Creek) will be able to accept a lot of water it didn't used to."

Replacement of non-native vegetation such as ivy and hawthorn with native species will increase the area's attractiveness as a park and natural area.

"Not only does native vegetation survive well and adapt through the seasons, it also provides habitat for native wildlife," she said.

Mayor Dennis Doyle said the improvements will reap aesthetic, infrastructural and recreational rewards.

"Not only will this grant help beautify our neighborhoods, it will also provide our citizens with better water quality and a safer place to enjoy our city's green areas," he said.

To learn more about Nature in Neighborhood grants, visit www.oregonmetro.gov/capitalgrants .