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Recreation is at the heart of Tigards park plan update

Park planners are turning an eye toward recreational services and facilities following two years of land purchases
by: Darryl Swan, PARK PLANNERS – Ryan Mottau of MIG, a Berkeley, Calif., based consulting firm with a regional office in Portland, runs the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board through the first steps of a park master plan update. The $70,000 plan update is the first for the city in around a decade.

TIGARD - Veteran parks manager Dan Plaza said there is little sense in trying to nail down the fine, demographic-driven details about who in Tigard is underserved by the city's current offering of recreation services.

'When it comes to recreation, everybody is underserved,' Plaza said.

Plaza's comment came at the kick-off meeting to update the city's Park System Master Plan on Monday night, a roughly $70,000 venture that will establish a roadmap for city spending on park and recreation development over the next 10 years.

The update is the first for the city in a decade. MIG, a Berkeley, Calif., company with a regional office in Portland, crafted the last version of the plan in the mid-1990s and was awarded the city contract for the latest refresher.

The gap in recreation services was a recurrent theme among the five members of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. Another was the question about how to engage residents in the city of more than 46,000 people to make sure their voices are reflected in the plan, a daunting challenge in light of the less than a handful of people to show up at the meeting.

Expectation is that a final version of the plan will be available in about a year.

Over the past two years, the city knocked out a string of land purchases totaling more than $5 million for nearly 9.5 acres of active park space, with another $390,000 thrown in for 3.2 acres of open space.

Current negotiations are underway that would more than double that land size, including talks for five acres of active parkland and 28 acres of open space.

Now, the question is what to do with all that space.

'Hopefully, over the next few months, we'll be able to start opening up,' said Brian Davies, chairman of the parks advisory board.

All of the commissioners touched on the absence of recreation facilities at some point in the process. Some stressed that too many people venture outside of the city or use private facilities to satisfy their need for recreation, a model that builds a disconnect between the city and its residents.

Ryan Mottau, the project manager for MIG hired to lead the plan update, said the lack of parks and recreational amenities can sway prospective businesses and industries out of the area, especially those seeking a workforce with an active lifestyle.

'Now, more than ever, jobs are drawn to where people want to live,' Mottau said.

Mottau also said that a key ingredient in the development of recreational programs is identifying what is already offered in the community in the form of private business or otherwise, and then working with those groups toward a common goal.

One goal for the update is to have it align with other efforts in the downtown corridor, such as planning around Fanno Creek and encouraging uses in the park system that are harmonious with the areas natural assets.

Make your voice heard

Community feedback is an essential piece of the Park System Master Plan update. A questionnaire being circulated throughout the community is a first step toward gathering that feedback. The questionnaire will be handed out at the upcoming Festival of Balloons in May, and will be available at community meetings. It can also be accessed and filled out on the Web at www.tigard-or.gov/community/parks/psmp/.

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meets the second Monday of every month at 7 p.m. in the Public Works Building auditorium located at 8777 S.W. Burnham Street.