Local government

Vale officials slate open house to collect input from residents on master parks plan

VALE – The city of Vale has big plans for its parks and at least one-fifth of residents appear to support the effort to improve local facilities.
The city is sponsoring an open house Wednesday, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m. at Vale City Hall to showcase ideas to renovate and enhance the existing parks system.
“It is to share where we are at with the master plan,” said Todd Fuller, Vale city manager.
A committee of residents and city council members have been working on a draft master plan for months. Such a plan will be used to seek outside funding.
There are already a lot “of good ideas” regarding the parks master plan, said Fuller.
“But we definitely have a long way to go,” he said.
One idea for the future includes adding two or more softball and baseball fields to Wadleigh Park, he said.
“There is talk of moving our skate park or creating a new one at the Kiosk Park near M&W Markets,” said Fuller.
Another proposal includes renovations to Cottonwood Park on the north side of town.
“Make it more of a family-friend park with more pavilions and playground equipment,” said Fuller.
Lewin Park could be revamped to become a veterans park with flag poles sporting the ensigns of each of the nation’s armed services.
“Because we are a municipality, we don’t have extra funding and so we have to go after grants. So, if we want a sports complex and it costs $3 million, we need to find grant funds,” said Fuller.
The city hired Conservation Technix Inc of Portland to survey Vale residents in May regarding the city park system. The city used a $62,000 grant from the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board to for the survey work.
The city mailed surveys to 792 households and posted the assessment online. The city received 90 responses on the mail survey and 179 answers from the online analysis. Of those who responded, 95% felt parks and recreation was essential or important to the city.
“Based on the survey results we found a lot of people do use our parks. They want to have events in our parks and they want a good, clean place they can go and let their kids run around,” said Fuller.
Vale has four parks: Wadleigh, Kiosk, Cottonwood and Lewin.
The survey showed that almost 70% of respondents go to local parks to participate in community events while 64% use them for family gatherings and picnics. Two-thirds of respondents said there are not enough sports fields and courts or recreation programs.
The top reasons people don’t use city parks was not enough restrooms or there wasn’t enough of the right kind of equipment, the survey found.
“One other thing that came out of the survey was that people were not utilizing the parks if they didn’t have kids. So, we are trying to make it out a little friendlier for everyone,” said Tom Vialpando, Vale mayor.
The 10-member city parks and recreation committee wants the community to attend the Oct. 12 session, said Vialpando.
“The one thing we try to do is be transparent. We encourage people to pack the house if they can,” said Vialpando.
Now, said Fuller, the city expects to be able to view a finished, master plan by January. The October session will be a good time to show the public how much progress has been made on the plan and to gather feedback, he said.
“It will help guide whoever is over the city for the next 20 years,” he said.
Parks committee member Sarah Rodriguez said the master plan concept is a building block for the future. Rodriguez owns Luzetta’s Flowers in downtown Vale.
“It’s an investment in my community and my business and it will benefit my kids,” said Rodriguez.
A revamped park system will benefit the city, said Vialpando.
“It is definitely important for our quality of life,” he said.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected].

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