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New parks committee visits public lands as part of parks plan update for city

COURTNEY VAUGHN - Dave Powers (center) talks about site features of a creek-side piece of property in Scappoose. Powers chairs the city's newly formed parks committee. Left to right: Alyse Lansing, Pete McHugh, Dakota Meyer, Powers, and Jeannine Duehren.

A mossy ledge near Miller Park marked the first stop in a half-day tour of small, scenic sites in Scappoose.

The outing was the first of its kind for the newly formed Scappoose Parks Committee, which meets the third Thursday of each month. The nine-member group stopped at a handful of similar sites Friday, Nov. 6, to survey the city’s inventory of undeveloped public property for future parks potential.

“There are restrictions on development, but you can get around those,” Dave Powers, the committee’s chairman, told the group, giving his expertise about a lot dubbed “Creek View” that borders Miller Park.

The site is marked by an embankment and vital riparian habitat.

“My kids have caught small fish, even eels out of here,” Powers said, pointing to the stream with a large roll of maps in one hand.

“This is definitely floodplain, it might even be flood way,” Powers observed. “You’d want to develop it in a way that you didn’t have structures on it. Areas like this, it just makes no sense to do significant development because you’re gonna have damage every flood event.”

Similar observations were noted as the group made its way to other empty sites, evaluating the potential for pedestrian bridges and parking lots.

Friday’s process was part of a larger effort to revise the city’s parks master plan. The current plan hasn’t been updated since the 1990s, according to Nick Sund.

Sund is volunteering with the city through the Resource Assistance for Rural Environments AmeriCorps program, to help the city update its parks master plan and assist with developing a community vision statement.

A few hours after a short convoy of cars made its way through through pocket sites wedged between residential neighborhoods and adjacent parks, the group landed at its most anticipated destination.

 COURTNEY VAUGHN - Pete McHugh, left, lends his historical knowledge of the history of Chapman Landing during a Scappoose Parks Committee outing to several undeveloped sites around the city.

At the tail end of the Crown Zellerbach Trail lies Chapman Landing. The waterfront site along the Multnomah Channel offers stunning views, but limited access for anything beyond hiking.

The site is considered by some to be the county’s greatest untapped recreational potential.

“The CZ Trail’s actually the closest linear trail to Portland,” Jeannine Duehren, a parks committee member, said. “The great thing about the trail is it doesn’t have to be horribly challenging for people.”

Scappoose currently only has three developed parks, but its access to Crown Zellerbach Trail, coupled with future recreational potential, is an integral part of the small city’s charm.

The new parks committee is the closest iteration to a parks and recreational department the city has.

“When we moved to this area, it was really about being closer to our business and to have land with a high quality of life,” Duehren said.

Currently, the Chapman Landing area is jointly owned by Columbia County and the city of Scappoose. Three different parcels at the site were previously purchased by the Port of St. Helens, city of Scappoose and Columbia County in 1996 for around $200,000, according to Craig Allison, the port’s property and operations manager. The port's parcel has since been conveyed to the county.

“There’s a lot of great ideas out there for what it could be,” Sund said of the site. “A lot of great opportunities for (grant) funding. I think there’s a desire from all the parties to do something with this site. The land ownership thing is a little tricky.”

Sund said the city is reaching out to stakeholders from the Port of St. Helens, the county and the city to have a

community discussion about the future of Chapman Landing.

A previous version of this story misstated the ownership and purchase details of Chapman Landing. The story has been updated with correct information.