Despite oppressive clouds of smoke, drifting ash showers and hair-frizzing humidity, more than 30 people showed up to the Boones Ferry Park Master Plan Kick-off Sept. 5. Held in the historic Tauchman House and outside in the park located in the Old Town neighborhood, the event was primarily attended by residents of the historic neighborhood.
The event was organized to gather ideas for what residents would like to see in the redesigning of the existing 7-acre park along with a swath of undeveloped land between the train track and Boones Ferry Road and a forested, waterfront 4-acre parcel that used to be a trailer park.
Starting with an oral presentation covering the intent of the meeting, consultants from GreenPlay LLC and City staff referenced inspiration boards and aerial maps of the land in question while asking attendees to break into groups and list their top choices for development.
It quickly became clear that many attendees favored a less-is-more approach. Several attendees also asked staff if doing nothing and/or not building the proposed pedestrian/bike/emergency vehicle bridge were options, or if the future development is "a done deal."
Staff explained that nothing is carved in stone and that fluidity is why the event was held to allow neighbors to share their hopes for the space by creating suggestion boards.
After an hour of creating boards detailing what attendees would like to see added to the park — from farmers markets to athletic fields — several themes emerged: preservation, nature-centered additions such as trails, better river access and a community garden, and no added vehicle traffic. Some groups also advocated for not building a bridge spanning the Willamette or having the alignment fall as far away from the neighborhood as possible.
A few of the groups were more open to the idea of adding features, including docks with swimming and boat-launching capabilities, off-leash dog areas, covered picnic areas, riverfront trails and more robust playgrounds with equipment for children and adults.
But regardless of how much will or won't be done, neighbors in attendance were happy to share what they envisioned for the park.
"It's coming whether we want it or not, so we might as well make suggestions," Michelle Pelletier, a three-year Old Town resident said.
Wilsonville Parks and Recreations Director Mike McCarty said that he was thrilled with the turnout.
"It's not the best weather since it's hot and muggy, but we had a lot of input, which is what we need," McCarty said. "We can't make these decisions as staff people. This is their park.
This is the citizen's park. This isn't City Hall's park or the Parks and Rec park, this is their park, so having them involved is crucial."