2006 talent parks master plan.png
A map from the current Talent Parks Master Plan, which was completed in 2006, shows existing parks in green and prospective acquisition areas marked with a red star.

Talent to study park possibilities

A closer look at how the city of Talent might develop park land near Bear Creek and how to provide better connectivity to parks for users may come out of a new parks master plan.

Oregon’s Parks and Recreation Department awarded the city a $32,000 grant for the master plan. The city will supply a $24,000 match from its system development charges account.

“The most important thing for me is the public input so we can see what the public wants out of that document,” said Parks Commission Chair Gordon Mobley. Surveys, interviews with stakeholders, community workshops and meetings with the Parks Commission will be undertaken.

“Everything is conceptual. It’s a 20-year plan. What we hope to see them do is elaborate on the parks’ direction,” said Community Development Director Zac Moody.

The current master plan was last updated in 2006. When the new one is finished, it will help augment the parks element of the city’s comprehensive plan.

Potential development of 19 acres next to Bear Creek is an area for exploration, said Mobley.

Informally called Suncrest Park, the area includes two city parcels that were listed for park development in the last plan. They are the 5.15-acre Whackers Hollow site, a former golf driving range off Suncrest Road, and the 13.89-acre De Young parcel along Bear Creek south of Suncrest and north of West Valley View Drive.

“That’s another property that either needs to happen or not happen. That’s something that has to be hashed out. On acreage, I think we are ahead of curve. We’ve got the land, it’s just a matter of money,” said Mobley. “It will be pretty expensive to develop the whole thing. It is a beautiful piece of property.”

Parts of the property have floodplain and wetland designations that pose constraints on potential development, said Moody. Access to a developed park might also be a problem, because there are no major arterials leading to the site.

“One of the biggest issues for us has always been connectivity, walking trails and bike paths,” said Mobley, who has served on the body for more than 20 years.

Study of nonmotorized trail connectivity was listed in the grant application. The new study would consider recent updates to the city’s Transportation System Plan and look at safe route projects for families going to parks.

A 14-acre parcel partially bordering Wagner Creek that was donated to the city in 2015 for park use may be one area where trails could be created. Other development there might be constrained by wetland issues. Plans already show where trails and paths might be created in the city, said Moody.

“We already have a pretty good plan for that, but you can always examine those and figure out how to better implement them,” said Moody.

The Parks Commission’s goal in recent years has been to finish work at Chuck Roberts Park and move on to downtown parks before taking on other projects, said Mobley.

Funding for parks creation will also be studied. The plan team would consider if the city’s current systems development charge mechanism is sufficient to support future parks development or redevelopment. The new plan would likely propose timelines to provide decision-makers a means of establishing yearly goals to implement the plan.

First phases of the plan could begin before the end of the year. The final plan would be completed by December 2019.

“You really have to dig deep and see what the residents want in the community before you make a plan like this,” said Moody. “The first part of the whole process is for the University of Oregon to go out and solicit the residents on what it is they want to have, the types of facilities and upgrades to existing facilities.”

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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