The Oregon Park District recently completed additional renovations to Park West just in time for the spring.
While planning for these improvements were many years in the making, with COVID, the timing of the completion will be an asset to not only the Oregon community but surrounding communities as well.
Connectivity was the focus of the most recent renovations and aligns with the district mission to continue to make their amenities handicapped accessible.
Oregon Park West is the most used park the district maintains. In 2019, planned improvements were stalled with grant paperwork and construction timelines. What was to begin in the spring was moved to fall and was not completed until Summer 2020.
“While improvements were delayed, it offered a unique opportunity for our community,” said Oregon Park District Executive Director Erin Folk. “COVID shut down the area in March 2020 and forced people to look for recreation opportunities outdoors. Park West, which is always a busy park, was filled with the community. The community was able to watch the transformation unfold.
“Planning for these projects are years in the making,” she said. “When choosing the amenities, we did not know how important both the Toro Court and the Sono Arch would become. The electronic components offered us a touchless recreation opportunity for the community. In addition, the soccer improvements were much needed, but we had no idea when completing them it would kick off both the boys’ and girls’ soccer seasons. Boys traditionally play in the fall and now both OHS teams will get to enjoy the improvements.”
Phase II of the Park West Improvements in 2019-20 included new shelter, additional bathrooms, Toro Court, Sona Arch, Batting Cages, new Sand volleyball courts, handicapped accessibility to the amphitheater and an inclusive playground with a poured in place surface. The surface as well as the playground are handicapped accessible and fully inclusive.
“Accessibility is always at the forefront of planning,” Folk said. “Many times, in our parks you see users of all ages and abilities. Removing play barriers and using a poured in place surface alongside connecting pathways, allows these users to enjoy the amenities without restriction.”
Park West was always popular with the Splash Pad. The addition of the new shelter and playground placement was designed to easily connect to the Splash Pad and other amenities. Paths are intertwined between all these amenities making it easy for someone in a wheelchair or using a stroller to utilize.
When planning the new amenities and the connectivity that was offered on the north end, a plan was established to increase accessibility to the soccer complex.
Soccer is the biggest recreational activity the Park District offers. The soccer program has expanded from fall to also include spring. In addition, the high school boys’ and girls’ teams utilize the fields for both practice and games.
In the Spring of 2017, Oregon High School fielded their first girls’ soccer team. A grass roots effort from parents and interested players was successful.
“The Oregon Park District was thrilled with the addition of girls soccer,” Folk said. “The interest has always been there. Our program starts at 5 years old and attracts just as many girls as boys. It was always disheartening to see players have no options for high school after playing for the Park District. The Soccer Organization and School District saw the need and the program has seen much success.”
Also, in 2017, the Oregon Park District received a generous donation in memory of Ken Kleveland to add home and away shelters in his memory to the soccer field. This began the process of how the Oregon Park District could improve the complex for both Park District players and the high school.
The issue of connectivity always came to the forefront. Planning began and finally took shape in 2020, with completion in 2021.
“The soccer fields are always a mess in the spring and wet,” Folk said. “This became an issue for players, staff moving equipment to groom fields, accessibility to fill the concession stand and most importantly parents and grandparents attending games. A 10-foot-wide path now connects the parking lot from the handicapped parking, along the north side of the tennis courts directly to the shelter, concessions, a new shade pavilion and access to the bleachers.”
“We had no idea we would be playing both boys and girls soccer this early, this spring when the paths were constructed. The new path allowed staff to take equipment to begin grooming the fields in February when snow was still on the ground preserving our turf.”
Previously a 20x20 tent was temporarily put up as a shade structure to watch games on the fields and was taken down between seasons. This sat in the grass. A permanent pavilion has been put in its place on cement. The bleachers were previously placed on grass and now have a connecting sidewalk with cement pad offering permanent placement.
“We hope not only the Oregon community but the surrounding communities that play soccer will enjoy these new amenities. We are excited to kickoff spring soccer and enjoy a busy summer,” Folk said.
Summer 2021 will hopefully look much different than 2020. The Park District is excited for the community to fully utilize the new amenities. Concerts in the Park will be back for 2021. Shelter reservations are open, and the Splash Pad will open Memorial Day Weekend.
“Things are taking shape for a busy spring and summer at the Oregon Park District,” she said. “The staff is excited to introduce and utilize the new amenities and see the park full of activities. I would encourage everyone to take a walk at Park West and see all the new improvements.”