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New Quarry Park opens for camping

By Benny Westcott
Of The New Era/Lebanon Local

A city-owned parcel of land currently known as Quarry Park officially opened Friday, June 16, for camping.

The 230-acre park, located north of 24th Avenue and south of the Santiam River, offers three RV areas at $60 per night, with 11 spots for up to two tents apiece at $30.

Four vehicles and 12 people are allowed at each site, which also feature fire pits. American with Disabilities Act-accessible portable toilets are also available.

Among its attractions are hiking and fishing, plus opportunities for boating and kayaking. Sweet Home City Manager Kelcey Young said the city hopes to eventually make kayak rentals available. Visitors may also get to witness wild animals in their natural habitat.

The facility is also equipped with portable toilets, information stations, trash cans and payment receptacles.

“There’s a lot of wildlife through there,” Young said. “There’s bald eagles, beavers and kingfishers, so we’re working through doing all the things necessary to actually increase their habitats and preserve them.”

This includes the removal of blackberry bushes and other nonnative species, planting native species in their place.

Young called Quarry Park “sort of a pilot program to see how this goes before we do a further design and so forth.” She said the city hopes to host a public input session on the area’s future, including, potentially, a new name.

While the property has many areas suitable for camping, the city chose an open exposed spot for its designated area.

“In probably the next few years, if we design further, those spots may eventually become ball fields or something else,” Young explained. “But for now, this was the most centrally located easiest spot for this pilot program, and also safe for the community.”

As for pricing, she said, “We looked at comparisons and we tried to be right smack in the middle in comparisons with other camping spots that are around.

“I will agree that our RV spots are a little bit higher than some around here, but that’s partially because everyone’s getting a more private experience because the sites are larger and there aren’t very many. And we do have to be careful about having too many RVs, so we have it this way for now.”

She added that the city is exploring discounts for Sweet Home residents, “but we are still working out how to do that logistically.”

According to Young, the city continues to work with the Department of Environmental Quality on a wetland delineation, which explains the absence of more RV areas. However, she added, this should be resolved within the next few months. A company hired by the city created a map indicating protected wetlands and areas suitable for development. That map is now under DEQ review.

Young suggested that the property could some day host the Oregon Jamboree, as could the former Willamette Industries mill site now owned by Josh Victor and Sweet Home Real Estate Restorations.

“Really, we just want to partner with everybody on whatever’s going to be best for the community,” Young said. “We’re open either way.”

Whatever the future holds for Quarry Park, for now its draw is camping.

“We wanted to go ahead and celebrate that beautiful area,” she said. “It’s so pretty down there. We wanted to open it up and make it available.”