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Wi-Fi available at six city parks

Access is free; speed will vary depending on season


When West Linn’s parks and recreation department installed solar panels at Tanner Creek Park last year, no one anticipated it would be the start of something bigger.

Parks and Recreation Director Ken Worcester was just looking to take Tanner Creek off the electricity grid and save on energy costs. But as he and other city officials looked into it more, they discovered that the next logical step was enabling public Wi-Fi service at Tanner Creek and five other city parks: Fields Bridge Park, Hammerle Park, Marylhurst Park, Sunset Firehall and Willamette Park.

“By packaging all the parks, we were able to go in without any construction costs,” Worcester said. “We have our own little equipment costs, but as far as hardwiring, there was no charge.”

In total, the project cost about $2,000 according to Worcester, and he believes that the ongoing Wi-Fi service costs will be offset by savings the city realizes by working remotely.

“We’ll be able to operate lighting and irrigation systems remotely,” Worcester said. “We’ll be able to literally shut off or turn on the irrigation systems, so if it’s pouring rain, we could shut off the systems from home if we need to. A lot of times, you have to send someone over to do that.”

Of course, the Wi-Fi is available for free to the public as well, and Worcester said it will be used in part to help facilitate sign-up sessions for park events.

“You’ll have to sign on, but you can go to any park with that initial click and still have the service,” Worcester said. “Once you’re in, you don’t need a password.”

Installation was completed last week, and though the service is operational, Worcester cautioned that connection speeds would be adjusted seasonally.

“The plan is to keep speed low during the off seasons as a money saving effort,” Worcester said. “But (we) will crank them up as the weather and park usage improves.”

Some of the city’s parks, like Mary S. Young and Robinwood, proved to be ill-fitted for Wi-Fi installation due to remote access points.

“Construction costs kind of blew the numbers up,” Worcester said. “We’ll try to do satellite or something else for those.”

To learn more, contact the parks and recreation department at 503-557-4700.

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