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Wilsonville tries to fill Memorial Park's pavement cracks

It looks like Wilsonville’s Memorial Park will be getting a significant makeover as early as Labor Day. The Wilsonville City Council voted Monday, Feb. 4, to award a $149,000 engineering contract to Wallis Engineering of Vancouver, Wash. The contract will cover planning for the overhaul of the parking lot at the 126-acre city park that runs along the banks of the Willamette River.

According to city Natural Resources Program Manager Kerry Rappold, groundwater and stormwater runoff at Memorial Park have damaged the asphalt in the parking lot to the extent where immediate replacement now is required.

“It’s primarily the result of groundwater and stormwater affecting those conditions,” Rappold told the city council. “So that’s a primary problem to solve. We also can make the parking lot more efficient in terms of how people use it, especially on the far west side, where the drive aisles are perhaps half as wide as they need to be.”

Three firms submitted bids to a request for proposal sent out last November, with the Vancouver firm winning the contract.

Situated at the base of a steep slope, the parking lot is partially within the 100-year floodplain of a tributary to Boeckman Creek. It also is partially within the Significant Resource Overlay Zone for Boeckman Creek itself.

A 2012 Stormwater Master Plan already has identified a so-called Low Impact Development project for the parking lot. It envisions reconfiguring the parking lot to improve traffic flow, as well as installing vegetated swales for stormwater treatment.

Other amenities that will be included in the revamped parking lot will include an informational kiosk and a corresponding trail connection to the upper part of the park at Murase Plaza. In addition, the new trail will provide access to a bus turnout, and a connection to the Day Dream Ranch neighborhood directly south of the park.

Finally, a turnout for SMART buses will provide safer parking and pickup space for riders.

Rappold told the council the city’s goal is to finish planning and begin actual work on the project by September. He said afterward that “very preliminary” estimates put the cost of the construction itself in the $600,000 to $750,000 range.

“This is a very heavily used parking lot, so one of the things we decided early on was we didn’t want to disrupt the uses,” Rappold told the council. “So we want to start sometime after Labor Day. We will notify groups impacted by projects, such as soccer groups and other large users, plus the residents in the Daydream Ranch neighborhood. We want to get really into the process of informing the public.”

A project website is in the works, he added, and there will be additional chances for public input, likely this spring through a virtual open house.

“There will be a lot of opportunity for public input and for people to weigh in on the design,” Rappold said. “But we’re just getting started, and there’s a lot that needs to be dealt with. We also need to stay within a reasonable timeline.”

Councilor Richard Goddard noted that perhaps work also could be done to ease traffic on the main access road to the park. That curvy, speed-bump laden path is barely wide enough to allow cars to pass each other, let alone buses, Goddard said.

“One challenge is that radius as you head to the right as you head down the hill,” he said. “Are they going to be looking at the alignment of the entrance road? Or could they possibly consider widening it? Could that be included within the scope? If we’re going to be intentional about allowing buses down there we need to find a safe way for them to come and go.”

Councilor Scott Starr told Rappold this also might be a good time to revisit the layout of the entire park.

“I’ve heard talk that the layout of the park may not be the most optimal,” Starr said. “So are we going to look at a new layout of the park after the parking lot goes in? Is that what I’m understanding?”

City Community Development Director Nancy Kraushaar said an update to the city’s parks master plan definitely is in the works, and would cover that particular topic. But it likely won’t take place before any parking lot reconstruction.

“I don’t think that will happen before we reconstruct the parking lot,” Kraushaar said. “But I anticipate it will happen shortly after. There’s this moving target about what’s happening with Memorial Park, and that master plan really needs to be re-visited.”

It’s going to be a quick process moving forward involving site planning and geo- technical analysis, as well as the public’s wishes, Rappold said.

“There are a lot of factors to look at between now and then,” he said. “Paving is problematic, and most of that we attribute to groundwater and stormwater issues; the lack of a sub-grade underneath the parking lot doesn’t adequately deal with that.”

The city would like to minimize impact to park users, and possibly will phase the work to allow for better access, he added. It also will look to improve pedestrian connectivity as well as directing traffic in the parking lot.

“We have a lot of work to do in a short period of time,” Rappold said. “But we’ll just have to balance all that as we move forward.”