City presents sport park vision to school board

Task force will begin exploring options for school district property that may be developed into North ballfield complex

Estacada City Manager Randy Ealy presented an idea to the school board Wednesday, Feb. 14, for the district's 40-acre parcel of land north of the high school track.

It was the late former school board member Dan Harding's dream to see this piece of land developed into a complex of community ballfields-a place for Little League baseball, youth soccer and football teams, school district sanctioned teams and community teams to compete.

In a sketch drawing created by a local landscape architect, a road called 'Harding Parkway' meanders up along the north side of the fields, and connects with a future housing development. It's a nod to Harding, who died Nov. 7, 2006, from pancreatic cancer.

'The road is on the city's transportation master plan and is identified as a needed connection west off of Cemetery Road,' Ealy said. 'Some residents call it the 'back door.' It is a connector and will ease traffic congestion at the Cemetery and Coupland intersection.'

Ealy said he asked to be on the board agenda because one of the identified school board goals for this year is to create a task force to study and recommend options on the possible uses of the district's 40 acres of land. He came to express the city's interest in participating in the process. Estacada Parks and Recreation Commissioner Zoe Miller came with Ealy to express her interest in sitting on the task force.

Two major housing developments totaling nearly 450 homes surround the 40 acres.

'The school district property is ideal for developing a portion as park land,' Ealy said. 'Its geographic location couldn't be any more in the center of the city's urban growth boundary. The school district has expressed a need for additional athletic fields for some time now-the need has been verbally bantered about for as long as I can remember.

'The school district has also expressed that they have a very tight budget and spending time on athletic and recreation topics is really outside of their core mission. The city can help by assisting in the visioning process, and possibly helping to fund the 40-acre development through park Systems Development Charges (SDC), as long as citizens can utilize the fields when they are not being used for school-district-sanctioned activities,' Ealy said.

Ealy describes the sketch he presented to the board as a 'walk and talk' piece. 'It is only a starting place to hopefully get the wheels turning for the school board, city council, and the newly formed task force,' he said. 'I expect the sketch to change significantly before the advisory committee finalizes its recommendations to the school board.'

School board chair Mark Greene said Ealy's presentation was 'excellent. I loved the conceptual drawing. The idea made a lot of sense.'

Greene said board member Jay Alvarado is going to chair the task force.

'With a housing development on the horizon, the time is right to do something,' Greene said. 'I have no idea how long it will take for the task force to reach a series of recommendations. There is a lot of work to be done and information to be analyzed.'