Parks group hears Cheadle improvements, pickleball needs

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

The Parks, Trees and Trails Committee at its June 21 meeting discussed upcoming improvements at Cheadle Lake, updates at Lebanon Skate Park and a warning to watch for an invasive pest.
The committee also heard a presentation from the Lebanon Pickleball Club, which is seeking space at a city park to potentially install new courts.
Public Works Director Jason Williams shared plans for Cheadle Lake upgrades, which will be funded by the city and a $2.6 million grant from the State of Oregon for accessibility improvements.
City staff will tackle the plan in two phases. The first begins this year with the installation of a waterline extension and roadway improvements along Weirich Drive. Those improvements include a multi use path with curbs and gutter along the park-side of the street. Additionally, Williams said, a third lane will be constructed on Weirich to serve as a turn lane.
Phase Two consists of work within park boundaries. The city will remove a pathway on the east edge of Cheadle Lake Park to make room for incoming, regulation-sized baseball fields. Now that the city owns 10 acres east of that path, the path can be rerouted around the east side of that newly acquired property.
Responding to a question by committee member Cindy Kerby, Williams confirmed all the trees along that existing path will be removed.
The plan includes replacing the berm at the northwest corner of the park with a stage, and constructing 18 ADA parking spaces behind the stage and near the center of Cheadle Lake Park. Committee member Rick Barnett noted it would be helpful to have space behind the stage reserved for entertainers, who often need a place to sit. As such, Kerby suggested moving the parking from behind the stage to the center of the park alongside the other spaces for disabled-parking spaces.
For the next part on the agenda, Barnett shared information about tree pests that he would like city staff and residents to be on the lookout for. The city currently is seeing birch trees around town that are dying from the bronze bronze birch borer, but now the emerald ash borer is getting close.
“The emerald ash borer is a very nasty little bug that has worked its way across the country to the Portland area and probably is closer than you think,” Barnett said.
The city has been aware of the impending infestation for a number of years, he said, and has stopped planting ash trees for that reason. Signs of the emerald ash borer include: woodpeckers feeding on the larvae (which is laid under the bark), thinning in the upper canopy, D-shaped exit holes in the trunk, splitting bark and epicormic branches (several branch shoots coming from a single bud).
“The emerald ash borer will be here; it’s just a matter of time.”
If anyone notices any of these signs happening in ash trees, Barnett asked residents and staff to alert the city.
Committee member Anna Creel presented an update on the Lebanon Skate Park. She said the picnic tables have been removed to discourage loitering and vandalism, but now cars are parking in that open space. Creel lives across from the park and said neighbors are concerned about risks to children at the park should a there be a “mechanical malfunction” from cars that park there and right along the cemented portion of the park.
As such, the city is considering options to prevent cars from parking too close. The city is talking about installing lights, and Williams added camera installation is also a possibility.
Committee member Linda Ziedrich asked if there are any plans to make the intersection at Franklin Street and River Drive safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. She said she’d like a pedestrian-controlled light there. City Manager Nancy Brewer said she’d look into whether there’s a possibility to do that.
The public was invited to address the committee, during which time Erez Gordon and Mark Donnelly approached as representatives of the Lebanon Pickleball Club, which boasts 53 active members ranging in age from 18 to 81.
Donnelly shared his enjoyment of the sport, but noted it can be a little noisy from the ball hitting the paddle. The City of Lake Oswego, he said, had to spend “thousands of dollars” to try to mitigate the sound because nearby residents didn’t like it, but they ultimately had to shut the courts down. To prevent similar problems in Lebanon, Donnelly has been looking at parks where pickleball courts could be less distracting.
He suggested the sport could be a boon for the city because players visit towns that host pickleball courts, and they spend money at hotels and local businesses.
“It’s sort of the new famous sport that nobody’s heard of,” Donnelly said.
Bend, Medford and Albany are considered “destinations” for pickleball, he added.
“I’m here to suggest that if we get this process started, I think we should think big,” Donnelly said. “By that, I mean looking at the potential to draw in people from all over Oregon, from out of state, and make Lebanon a pickleball destination.”
The Lebanon club currently plays at Century Park where, Gordon said, the concrete has “probably reached its end of life.” They’d like to work with the city to find a new location and possibly grow the sport.
Donnelly said Riverview Park near the river would be a nice option, which would provide “one of the most beautiful settings of any pickleball court in the state of Oregon.” Cheadle Lake Park, he added, is “ideal for so many reasons,” including access, visibility and proximity to fire station medics.
They said they’re looking for a minimum of four courts to support the local club, but would present the idea of considering up to eight or 12 courts for encouraging tournaments and players from out of the area.
“We could probably pretty easily fill an eight-court,” Gordon said.