County seeks grant for Lewis Creek Park improvements

Linn County Parks will apply for a matching grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to replace a restroom and sidewalks and improve Americans with Disabilities Act access to the beach at Foster Reservoir’s Lewis Creek Park, the Board of Commissioners agreed Tuesday morning, Nov. 29.

Parks Director Brian Carroll estimated that the project would cost $295,300. The grant would reimburse $247,650 to the county, which the Parks Department would match with labor and funds from the transient lodging tax and RV and forest funds.

Carroll called it the first phase of implementation of the county’s long-term master plan for the 50-plus-years-old park, in its first major overhaul.

Public meetings were held to gather input from visitors about renovations in the park, a day-use area that includes beach access for swimming and boat docks.

Commissioner Sherrie Sprenger asked about the possibility of camping spurs. Carroll said that spurs would require a lot of space and that the site occupied only 20 acres of land. He added that the park hosted several annual events, such as a water polo tournament and an Iron Man Triathlon, that required overnight camping, but in tents only.

Carroll told the commissioners that the Parks Department would also begin working on securing funds to replace the old infrastructure at Sunnyside Park, which like Lewis Creek, was also more than a half-century old, with water lines requiring considerable annual repairs. Pipe replacements, he said, would be a major project both in time and expense, but that state funding was available.

Commissioner Roger Nyquist asked Carroll about annual visitations.

Carroll said parks use remains brisk with more than 500,000 visitors per year, down from as many as 700,000 during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, when camping was one of the few public events that remained open.

Sprenger said Linn County Parks “are arguably the best” in the state and the Parks Department operated without general-fund monies.

“It’s probably been 20 years since we used general-fund money for a capital project,” Carroll said.

In other business, the commissioners:

♦ Approved the purchase of a new $137,237 Freightliner cab and chassis for the Road Department as requested by Roadmaster Wayne Mink.

♦ Approved a $20,000 transfer to Veterans Services, as requested by director Dee Baley-Hyder, to support the continuation of a program providing Linn County veterans with transportation to medical appointments.

♦ Heard a report from Nathan Conroy of the RAIN economic development program. Conroy said RAIN wanted to sponsor an entrepreneurship training seminar in Linn County, similar to one held recently in Lane County.

♦ Commissioner Nyquist said the Oregon Department of Transportation planned a 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, grand opening for the new Mid-Valley Intermodal Center in Millersburg.

– Alex Paul, Linn County Communications Officer