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City seeks priorities for new parks plan

by: STAFF PHOTO  CLIFF NEWELL Kim Gilmer and Ryan Stee have to get through a mound of paperwork for the new parks and recreation master plan for the city of Lake Oswego. But when they are finished, the city’s citizens could have a better parks system than ever.

The city of Lake Oswego has an excellent parks and recreation system that receives lots of kudos from the public.

But even good park plans get old, so Kim Gilmer, parks and recreation department director and her staff, are in the process of forming a new plan that will assure continued success for the next 10 or 15 years.

'It's important that we do these things from time to time,' Gilmer said. 'Because people's priorities change over the years. This time around we have two things that are very high priority, children's playgrounds and facilities for exercise and fitness, that weren't even on the radar before.'

Gilmer and Ryan Stee, city special projects director, believe they have a good grasp on what the Lake Oswego public wants. Since work on the new plan started in August of last year they have held 15 public outreach events which attracted 1,400 participants.

'We've run the whole gamut,' Gilmer said. 'We tried to find out what people thought and what they valued, not just about the parks but the programs, too. We've had a lot more citizen involvement this time around.'

To make a long list short, these are the areas Lake Oswegans want most strongly addressed in the next parks master plan:

* Children's play areas.

* Experience nature.

* Exercise and fitness.

With so much information gathered, Gilmer and Stee will have much to place in the hands of the parks board at its meeting on Wednesday.

'It's an exhaustive list, and it documents what people have been saying,' Gilmer said. 'These won't be recommendations. We want to prioritize what we need to focus on for the next five years. We really want the business plan for the parks and recreation department and how we manage our priorities for the next 15 years.

'We need a new plan because we have to know where we're going, how to get there and how we should use our resources. Then we can use our money in the very best way.'

Money. That is what will make everybody's park dreams come true, and also make them possible.

Stee said, 'A new plan will help us find funds outside of the city. They will demonstrate community support.'

A prime example of past success is the boat dock at Foothills Park. Such a facility was identified in the plan as a high priority, so Lake Oswego was able to obtain a grant from the Oregon State Marine Board.

But there is much more on tap: A phone survey is planned for July, and the results will be matched up with the information gathered so far.