Trail would access Robinwood Park

The city council is moving forward in deciding whether or not to purchase an easement to add park accessibility to the Robinwood SUBMITTED - The city of West Linn wants to acquire an easement off of Old River Road to add another access point to Robinwood Park.

After discussion during a work session this week, the council agreed to vote on an easement for a trail from Old River Drive to Robinwood Park during its regular meeting this coming Monday.

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 collected 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.

The petition listed a number of reasons the council should not approve the proposal, including environmental and wildlife impacts, park security and safety concerns.

However, access to the park has been drawn 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.

“An easement into a park is not an anomaly,” he told the council, citing several West Linn parks that have easements leading into them. “Most of our parks have a lot of different ways to access them.”

Though the decision next week is 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.

“This is really a look into the future for the city,” Worcester said, adding that all of the parks in the last 10 years have had some sort of opposition, including the city’s newest Marylhurst Heights Park. He also pointed out the Lake Oswego City Council recently approved the purchase of a $1.23 million waterfront home in the hopes of eventually completing a trail linking Lake Oswego to other cities on the Willamette River. After carving out an easement on that property, Lake Oswego will then put the house back on the market.

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.

The council, with the exception of Cummings, agreed to move forward with the decision.

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