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Cheadle park improvements to be cut back

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

The Parks, Trees and Trails Advisory Committee pared down its focus for Cheadle Lake Park improvements after determining costs for original plans during its Oct. 18 meeting.

At its July 19 meeting, the committee reviewed a design proposal for the park – which included paved parking, an amphitheater and three full-size baseball diamonds – as part of a $2.6 million grant received from the state (in addition to another $1-1.5 million from SDC funds). Engineering Director Ron Whitlach reported a cost estimate for the completion of the design came to $11.5 million.

Since the intent of the grant was for accessibility improvements, Whitlatch suggested the City use the funds to build the multi-use path in front of the park, and install ADA parking and ADA paths. The next primary focus would be the completion of the stage where the amphitheater would be.

This design by Udell Engineering depicts an original idea for how to use a $2.6 million grant at Cheadle Lake Park.

Committee member Cindy Kerby said that she asked the City of Albany about baseball fields they had built, to which they told her the money they put into them did not bring a return in use and tourism. She would like to do more research on the idea of installing pickleball fields. Furthermore, during Kerby’s research, somebody suggested to her an indoor-outdoor building for a small kitchen to be used for weddings, corporate events and the like.

Whitlatch estimated the project would probably begin in 2025, but he must first get a quote on what the new plan would cost.

In other business:

  • Maintenance Operations Manager Jason Rush reported that Public Works uses herbicides on blackberry bushes located on public land. In addition to public announcements indicating when the crews will spray, the City plans to erect permanent signs at parks and along trails where blackberries exist to inform residents of the fact.

The City manages more than 300 acres of parks and land with four to eight employees, Rush said, and the only way to keep blackberries from overrunning the trails is to use herbicides.

“Spray is one of those things that, if we didn’t use it, we wouldn’t be able to keep up,” he said.

Committee member Linda Ziedrich asked if the spraying could be avoided in July and August when the community picks the fruit off the bushes. Rush said he would look into that.

  • Rush and Ziedrich discussed tree and bush damage at Cheadle Lake Park that is apparently happening when city crews mow trails there. Rush said the crews use an excavator with a mulching head on trails and, given limited staffing, that’s their only option. Ziedrich expressed concern about damage to a hazel shrub and tree, to which Rush responded bushes along the trails are mowed back and their tree expert said the damaged tree would be fine. Ziedrich asked if Build Lebanon Trail volunteers could take up the task of properly trimming plants along the trails, to which Rush said that would be a welcome help.
  • The committee discussed the possibility of planting a tree at Pioneer Cemetery. Specifically, Ziedrich explained, a group of volunteers calling themselves Friends of Pioneer Cemetery expressed interest in planting a tree at the William Ralston plot, where once stood a tree.

The Lebanon Garden Club offered to purchase a tree on the condition that water be made available to keep the tree alive for the next two summers, she said. Rush responded that there is water service there, but the City would need to look at whether it’s still operable.

  • Maintenance Operations Coordinator Ciarra Keene reported a maple tree was removed from 7th and Sherman streets after it had split down the middle and was found hollow. Another maple tree was removed from north of Porter Park. It was damaged and found to be hollow, and was hanging over neighboring property.
  • Keene reported the boat ramp at the north end of Cheadle Lake does not have a sign. She asked the committee if they and the city had any ideas for what to put on a new sign in the way of what to call that end of the park so as not to confuse that location with Cheadle Lake Park itself. Ideas might be, but not limited to, “North Cheadle Lake Trail ” or “Cheadle Lake Boat Ramp.”
  • Keene reported the city has seen an increase of “homeless and household trash” being dumped in parks and on trails. Public Works crews have daily been picking up the trash, and now will make those rounds twice a day. They have been tracking the trash and locations to help determine which locations are getting trash beyond expected park users’ garbage.

“We have found indicators that some of it is household trash, and we have turned that information into (the police department) for tracking,” she said. “But primarily it is additional trash from houseless issues that the crews are seeing out there.”

Keene cited the Old Mill Trail and Ralston Park as locations where it is worse.

  • Keene also reported: a sign at Christopher Columbus Park was replaced; the city is receiving a lot of requests for installation of memorial trees and benches; and Keene updated the website and application for the Adopt A Park, Adopt A Trail program.

“It used to be we had a lot of parks and trails adopted by community members, and it kind of just fell off the radar,” she said.