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Council approves access to Robinwood Park


Easement will go through application process for trail

Residents of the Robinwood neighborhood may someday have another access to Robinwood Park off of Old River Drive. During its Monday meeting, the West Linn City Council approved acquiring an easement that would allow for a trail to the park.

The issue has drawn out since August, going through several city council meetings and work sessions.by: CITY OF WEST LINN - The city of West Linn is acquiring an easement off of Old River Road to add another access point to Robinwood Park.

The city has searched for a way to provide pedestrian access to the park since the city acquired the property 12 years ago. The opportunity recently made itself available.

The issue first came to the council for a vote Aug. 13, when discussions of feasibility of the trail, grade, fees associated with the seller and impact on homeowners arose.

At that time, council members agreed to gather more information, take site tours and host discussions before making a decision at the Sept. 10 city council meeting. However, prior to that meeting, councilors decided to further explore the matter during a work session.

City staff thinks this is the city’s last chance to get another access point to the park, as it is the last undeveloped chunk of land abutting the park. A developer, Pacific Lifestyle Homes, has received building permits for two of three lots and has situated the buildings to leave room for the easement. The developer has agreed to “sell” the city the easement in the form of $37,000 worth of system development charge certificates.

Since the August meeting, Robinwood resident Mike Warner has circulated a petition signed by more than 100 residents who do not want the trail. The easement would abut Warner’s property on Old River Drive.

Warner told the council at the Monday meeting that he found out about the easement by accident and that the city never told him about the proposal.

The petition listed a number of reasons the council should not approve the proposal, including environmental and wildlife impacts, park security and safety concerns. The property contains a 30-foot drop down into a ravine and has a grade between 28 and 30 percent.

Warner said the ravine acts like a catch basin and in the springtime has been known to flood.

“Trails are great when they work,” Warner said. “The safety concerns are real. It is a real danger. It’s not the right application in this place.”

However, access to the park has been mapped out since the park’s inception in 1999, which included input from the community. Nearly 200 households would directly benefit from the park access, according to West Linn Parks and Recreation Director Ken Worcester.

Several residents at Monday’s meeting spoke on behalf of the easement.

“It’s a beautiful park. It’s sad we’ve never had an easement through there,” Robert Stowell said. “I urge you to approve this.”

“I think we need to get this park accessible,” Alison Henderson said. “This is a beautiful park. Let’s get some access to it.”

Though the decision this week was solely whether or not to acquire the property, the council also deliberated as to the feasibility and cost of installing a trail at that site, which is steep and would likely require bridges or boardwalks to traverse the property.

Worcester said the city has a variety of options to make the trail, including using volunteers to help with construction, something the parks system does on a regular basis.

If the city acquires the easement, it will then have to file a land-use application to create the trail. The proposed easement is 10 feet wide on one lot and 15 feet wide on the other lot. The property has a gully that runs through it and the city would need a water resource area permit and a design review before a trail could be built.

Councilor Teri Cummings said residents may already access the park by walking along the streets to the main entrance, but Worcester thinks the trail would reduce that distance by at least a half mile.

Cummings expressed concern about safety, limited year-round access and the cost of the proposed trail.

Cummings still doubted the feasibility of the trail at Monday’s meeting.

“I love our trail and I love nature,” she said. “I have my doubts that this makes sense. This would be a potentially hazardous hike up and down both sides.”

Mayor John Kovash also doubted the feasibility of the trail. He also expressed regret that the city did not contact Warner about the easement.

“I’ve had issues with feasibility,” he said. “I don’t want this city stuck with a right of way to nowhere.”

However, other councilors disagreed.

Councilor Mike Jones said the easement would open up to the park to the 250 neighbors near the park, getting them off the streets and onto a trail.

“It’s a huge difference in our quality of life,” he said.

Councilor Jody Carson agreed.

“I think we would be remiss on passing up on this opportunity,” she said.

The council voted to approve the acquisition of the property with Cummings being the lone vote against it.