by: SUBMITTED - The parks and recreation department plans to convert this remaining portion of this wetland area to 50 more parking spaces. Perhaps an increasing number of West Linn citizens are tending to wonder, as I have been wondering, where on earth so many ideas come from to “improve” the city’s parks.

Who indeed does the planning? The parks and recreation department? Folks up higher in city administration? Or is it perhaps the influence of special interest groups weighing heavily on the minds of elected officials? And an administration politically adept at silencing views critical to the concept that our parks’ plans and eventual physical improvements must be devoted essentially to the “jock mentality?”

With this said, it is unfortunate that while the city owns many acres of parks land, a small percentage of such property is flat enough to be used for sports fields.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with soccer, football and baseball. In the all-American lexicon, such sports are right up there with mom and apple pie. But way too often land acquired at great expense with taxpayer monies is ill-suited for athletics, which is to say certain parcels are remodeled to the detriment of native wildlife, wonderful and frequently endangered native flora and to water quality of streams, most notable water in the Tualatin River.

Furthermore, to what extent are our parks well maintained? For example: Fields Bridge Park located on Willamette Falls Drive at the western boundary of West Linn, this park should present an attractive impression to the city and especially to the historic Willamette district, which has become an attractive magnet.

But these days, Fields Park presents a sorry view to Willamette district — such eyesores. The long vacant, boarded-up firetrap farmhouse that is way beyond any attempt at restoration, redundant signage, a scummy oil-slick slough, the barren pounded-flat-by-cars open former meadow adjacent to the permanently fenced baseball field.

And, let’s note the last-named item: The parks and recreation department plans to convert this remaining portion of this wetland area to 50 more parking spaces and of which the parks department says the additional parking is for the community garden, but everyone knows it is really meant to accommodate vehicles for the baseball tournaments held four or five times a year.

Further, with the prospect of possible passage of the $24 million aquatic center, this writer finds it incredible that current parks staff and public works could sufficiently care for such a new swim and gym center, considering how uneven parks maintenance has become, most glaringly at Fields Park.

Noted on a recent visit: battered picnic tables, missing signs depicting the geologic history of the region, young trees broken for use as firewood, a dumpster filled to bursting, ugly numerous plastic garbage cans (just great for throwing into the river) and still too many hazards on the trails for youngsters on trikes and bikes.

Fields Bridge Park is our “gateway” park and despite the increasingly ironic depiction of that metal sculpture of the Tualatin’s noticeably decreasing blue heron population, Fields Park comes off as an alarmingly depressing and junky introduction to our city.

Indeed, where’s our civic pride?

Andy Rocchia is a West Linn resident.

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