Friendly Area Neighborhood Newsletter - January 2008
How Did We End Up With the Neighborhood Matching Grant for Friendly Park...and Why Wasn't I Consulted?
By Nancy Ellen Locke, FAN Board Member

In the fall of 2006, the City of Eugene re-instated the Neighborhood Matching Grant program. At that time, the FAN Executive Board reviewed the Friendly Neighborhood, looking for an appropriate project to help support and fund.

The Board chose Friendly Park, at the corner of Monroe and 27th. The park already had a written Concept Plan, put together by a FAN neighborhood citizens' committee and Philip Richardson of the Parks and Open Spaces Department. Friendly Park was to be updated to improve public safety and to make it ADA accessible. The FAN Board felt that it could help put in amenities--already on the Concept Plan--that the City of Eugene Parks Department couldn't fund on their budget for the park.

In the spring of 2007, the FAN Board published its intentions for seeking the Neighborhood Matching Grant to help implement unfunded elements from the City's Concept Plan for Friendly Park in our neighborhood newsletter. The Neighborhood Matching Grant was written as five interlocking parts supporting each other:

1. An Information Kiosk for posting neighborhood notices and permeable pavers underneath it.
2. Adult Stretch Equipment to invite a larger spectrum of people to the park.
3. Enhanced Camas Bulb Planting along the east side.
4. A Native Plants Entrance Garden on Monroe Street.
5. And, if the funding holds out, an addition of rocks or logs for climbing on.

There have been both positive and negative comments to the Board from neighborhood residents during the life of this Neighborhood Matching Grant Project. The item causing the most interest is the Adult Stretch Equipment. The Adult Stretch Equipment, as now planned, will be only on the east side of the north/south path and take up less than 1% of the entire Friendly Park space.

In the interest of full disclosure, I support the entire Neighborhood Matching Grant.
Come See Friendly Park - YOU Decide!
Submitted by Megan Davis, FAN Board member

This quarter's FAN General Meeting is devoted to discussing whether and how to proceed with the Matching Grant project described above. There have been pleas to the FAN Executive Board from neighbors directly adjacent to this park that the site has already been overloaded with other new developments, and that further additions will harm its original character. But in order to make informed decisions, we encourage everyone coming to the meeting to visit the park during the day, and see it for themselves.

The FAN Executive Board has arranged for neighbors and City staff to view the park in daylight on Saturday January 19th, starting at noon. Proposed locations for the grant items will be temporarily marked on the park grounds.
Come To The Friendly Area Neighbors January General Meeting

When: Thursday, January 24th 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Where: Washington Park Community Center, 2025 Washington St.

What's on the Agenda?

Community discussion of options for Friendly Park Neighborhood Matching Grant

Representatives from City of Eugene Parks and Open Spaces and Neighborhood Matching Grants will be on hand to help answer questions

Decision by FAN Executive Board on whether to continue with implementation of Matching Grant

Come let us know how you feel about the Friendly Park Matching Grant improvements
Friendly Park Basics
Submitted by Nancy Ellen Locke, FAN Board Member

As part of the Parks & Open Space bond measure approved in November 1998 by Eugene residents, improvements are now in place at Friendly Park, a 1.3 acre park site located in the Friendly Neighborhood at the intersection of Monroe St. and W. 27th Ave. PUBLIC INPUT - The first public workshop to discuss key issues and possible improvements was held on October 14th, 2004, at the Adams Elementary School Library. The second neighborhood workshop was held on Tuesday, February 8, 2005.

THE CONCEPT PLAN, based on input received through the public workshops, was completed in 2005. Park redevelopment began in the summer of 2007 and was complete by the end of November 2007. The redeveloped park includes a new swing set and slide, a sand play area including a tap for water, a looped path, a drinking fountain, benches, a bike rack, and native plantings. A Neighborhood Matching Grant to install a kiosk, adult stretch equipment, and additional native plantings has been postponed pending a Friendly Area Neighborhood meeting scheduled for January 24th.
Reconsidering Friendly Park Changes
Submitted by David Strom, FAN Resident and Friendly Park direct neighbor

Friendly Park is the smallest of the city parks in our neighborhood as the comparison (below-right) shows. At 1.3 acres, Friendly Park is about one-third of the recommended 4.0 acre minimum for Eugene city parks.

The recent remodeling of the playground at Friendly Park has proven to be quite a challenge for such a small park. On the one hand, the amount of play equipment didn't change. On the other, updating the play area to meet the requirements of the City of Eugene for ease of maintenance, as well as providing disability access and modest protection of the root zone of the trees, meant using a large area and building concrete retaining walls. This development more than doubled the footprint of the playground and has had a very large visual impact on the park.

The gaze of a visitor walking past the park is now drawn to the concrete retaining walls and the play equipment, rather than to the grass and trees of the park as in the past. Given that Friendly Park is much smaller than any of the public parks and schools in the area, any funds available in the neighborhood matching grant should go toward measures to soften the blow of all the sprawling playground development rather than adding even more equipment.

Additional equipment would cause an even more cluttered appearance. It would also encroach on the remaining open space in the park. The very large (and very wonderful) trees in the park have wide critical root zones that are best left undisturbed. This limits the location of any new equipment to the remaining open space. The reconfiguration of the play equipment has already limited the possibilities for casual games of Frisbee, soccer, touch football and softball. It would be unfortunate if any more of this space were lost.

There appears to be no compelling reason to add more equipment to Friendly Park and plenty of reasons to avoid it. Adult exercise and stretching equipment should be installed in larger parks with other exercise opportunities for adults. At Westmoreland Park, an all weather track will soon be installed. This park would be an excellent candidate for such equipment. In Washington Park. there is a large unused area near the tennis courts that could also serve as a good site for adult stretching equipment. Locating the equipment near other exercise facilities for adults is likely to maximize its use.

Given that the renovation of Friendly Park turned out rather differently than many in the neighborhood thought it would, we should take this opportunity to reconsider the FAN neighborhood matching grant. A discussion is planned at the January 24 FAN general meeting.
Letters to the Editor
Regarding the Adult Stretching Equipment, Here's My Two Cents:

As an active participant in the Friendly Area Neighborhood and recent home buyer, I pay well over $200 a month in property taxes. I have no children that attend any schools supported by my property taxes. I make no demands on the system, so why can't I have a place near my own home where I can stretch this tired body, not only while I still work, but also after I retire?

This anti-stretching equipment sentiment for older residents makes me feel as if I am not welcome in Friendly Park. Not very friendly for older folks. It's my park, too. Thanks for listening.

-Amy Henne, newly planted Friendly Area neighbor and new FAN Board Secretary

~~~

I am quite enthusiastic that the children in the neighborhood have a fresh, new playground. I'm also quite enthusiastic about having the stretching equipment nearby for my own use. I have been to Friendly Park a number of times and always feel welcome.

-Carol Schnabel, FAN resident
Willamette Street Two-Way Conversion
Submitted by Greg Giesy, Willamette Street Two-Way Conversion Stakeholders Group Member

The Willamette Street two-way conversion stakeholders group met this past December 11th to look at the DKS Associates study on existing conditions in the Willamette Street and 18th Avenue area. The study area included some of the intersections from Olive Street to Pearl Street/Amazon Expressway and from 15th to 24th Avenues.

The study did counts from morning, midday, and late afternoon peak periods for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists as they moved through intersections. It also looked at the number of available peak hour gaps during which pedestrians can cross the major streets. It then looked at average delays, level of service, and volume to capacity ratios on intersections, and finally looked at collision data for some of the intersections.

The one problem with the study was that data collection happened on June 12, a day that the seniors at South Eugene High School were not in school, and a day that students both at South Eugene and the University of Oregon were taking finals. This, our group believed, lowered counts, especially for bicyclists going on the 15th Avenue bike route to and from the university and on 19th Avenue with students going to South Eugene. It was decided to continue the evaluation and not add to costs and wait months to collect new data.

Looking over the data, we found three major intersection problems. One, the gap analysis showed that Willamette Street intersections without signals were hard to cross for pedestrians and bicycles, and would be even harder to cross if the two-way conversion happened between 18th & 20th.

Two, the level of service analysis gave grades of E and F in peak afternoon hours for the intersections of Willamette St. and 19th Avenue, Willamette St. and 20th Avenue, and 18th Avenue and Olive Street. These level of service and gap analysis problems are added to by the fact that there is not enough cross traffic to warrant a signal at any of the cross streets that are without a signal now.

The last problem is collision rates at Willamette Street and 18th Avenue, Oak Street and 18th Avenue, and Willamette Street and 15th Avenue. All are close to or above the maximum national acceptable collision rate.

The stakeholder group also talked about the two-way conversion between 13th and 18th on Willamette that is already hurting some businesses. With these new traffic counts, we think that there is proof that the two-way conversion between 18th and 20th will hurt the Meridian businesses.

City staff and DKS are starting to look at possibilities of how to change Willamette Street between 18th and 20th Avenues. Our next meeting is tentatively scheduled for the end of January.

With this DKS study showing that we don't have enough cross traffic to warrant traffic signals and that it is hard to cross safely, it's my opinion that most people on the stakeholders committee would have a hard time justifying the conversion to two-way traffic on Willamette Street between 18th and 20th Avenue.
More Letters to the Editor

To begin, I do not live right next to the park; I am a full two blocks from Friendly Park. Over the ten years I have lived in the neighborhood, I have occasionally taken dinner to the park with my husband and a few friends, to almost daily visits to the park once I became a parent. While the dinners in the park were sweet, it is as a parent that I have truly appreciated our little park. As a parent committed to being home with my young children, I crave opportunities to meet and chat with other adults.

Our park was just the place for this, with a simple, gentle design that allowed children a great deal of running and playing away from the road, with a minimum of hazards. We would come and sit around the edge of the big sand box and encourage each other as people and parents, a thing missing in our lives beyond our work outside of home days. We could share ideas about caring for our families, caring for ourselves, and balancing these with work outside the home, or budgeting without that work/income.

Now, our park has lost the easy congregation area, instead having multiple hazards and benches spread out from each other. The swings are much smaller than they used to be, good for only the littler children. No more mixed ages playing in the center of our park. Now, some neighbors want more equipment added to the park, right next to the road...yet another hazard for smaller children, and requiring more vigilance from parents. Of course, this new equipment must have concrete mowing strips around it to boot, so yet another place to trip and really hurt yourself if you're running around the park.

While all this is frustrating, the most frustrating part for me has been the process. We were told the budget would be $40,000, yet the project became $175,000. This can cause a great deal more damage to a loved neighborhood park than we neighbors ever expected. Then, a small group of people came up with a plan for adult stretching equipment at the corner of the park, at 27th and Monroe, using a neighborhood matching grant. Many neighbors have expressed dismay at the idea of any more equipment added to our small park, especially with similar equipment going unused at nearby Westmoreland park. While I applaud their commitment to make the park a place for all ages, I believe there is a way to do that without making the park a jumble of concrete and equipment that actually works against a diversity of ages using the park. Let's work together to really look at what would fit in this little park.

Yes, there was some notice given about the proposed equipment in the FAN newsletter...I had a new baby and missed that issue. I wasn't too worried about major changes in the park, since the budget was only $40,000, so I just took care of my family and missed that things had changed quite a bit. For whatever reason, most of the neighbors I know (all outside the block petitioned in the grant) also missed the article suggesting more equipment be added to the corner of the park.

-Tamara Campbell, FAN resident

~~~~~

For a decade now, my children and I have frequently walked and biked the three blocks from my house to our closest neighborhood park at Monroe and 27th to play. When they were little Grace and Isaac focused on the playground equipment, but as our family grew, we've begun engaging a whole neighborhood of bigger kids and adults in informal games like pick-up baseball, soccer, football, Frisbee, and trackball. These games require as much open space as possible encumbered by as few obstacles as possible.

It is great that the swing sets have moved and there is more space east of the new concrete walls. We will mostly be playing field games in the open spaces east and north of them. That is unless that space gets more hazards and obstacles from additional concrete and structures.

We want the FAN board to know that the open space in our little park needs to be as big and as grassy as possible so we can keep using it for great, informal field games that really bring our neighborhood together on a sunny afternoon.

We attended the last FAN meeting concerned with the increased extent of structures being installed in this small park. Soon the kids were out in Washington Park doing their usual open spaces play. This is a simple demonstration of how valuable open spaces are for kids from ages six to eighty-six.

We know that the FAN board has put a lot of hard work, time, and thought into the idea of accessible adult exercise structures. Please use those good efforts to locate adult stretching equipment and kiosks at Westmoreland, Washington Park, or even EWEB's College Hill reservoir's green spaces. Be assured that a larger number of folks will be grateful for their presence there.

Friendly Park is just too little to be crowded with another obstacle to play in its open spaces.

Thank you for keeping the kid alive in all of us and not overdoing the development of this tiny neighborhood jewel.

-Ethen Perkins, FAN Resident
FAN College Hill Reservoir Update
Respectfully submitted by Rick Grosscup, Co-Chair, Friendly Area Neighbors standing committee to work with EWEB on the College Hill reservoir (FANCH)

Representatives of EWEB attended our FAN Board meeting last December 10 to tell us what EWEB was going to be doing around the College Hill Reservoir in 2008. With both our district EWEB Commissioner John Simpson and at-large Commissioner John Brown watching, Tom Buckhouse, the head of EWEB's water and steam department, explained that $300,000 had been included in their 2008 budget to improve the reservoir's security. This work is to be accomplished as part of the work approved at EWEB's February 6 Board meeting last year.

Senior Water Engineer Jay Bozievich, who is in charge of this work, explained that the project included grinding out the concrete on either side of the surface seams, resealing it, and capping it with metal plate. The head house will be fenced with a decorative steel design. Neither of these projects has gone out for bid yet. EWEB also intends to upgrade the electrical service to the reservoir and will be installing two large vaults, to house new control valves, on the Lincoln street side this summer.

FAN expressed concerns about completing a proposed ADA ramp to the reservoir surface this year to take advantage of the City's matching grants. Matching grant applications need to be submitted by the end of February to be approved for this year. EWEB does not have the ramp in either this year's plan of work or the 2008 budget. Tom Buckhouse did take a model of our proposed design with him to study. FAN's College Hill reservoir committee members know that our proposal does not require EWEB funding as long as EWEB approves our design.

Although EWEB staff were not interested in being involved in the functioning of a neighborhood (read reservoir) watch, one will be organized by neighbors early next year once guidelines are established. Early next year, Jay and members of FAN will be walking the reservoir grounds with a member of the police department who has an idea of how the landscaping helps or hinders security. EWEB will then implement a plan to improve security through thoughtful landscaping.

The future disposition of the lower reservoir and water tower have not been determined by EWEB. EWEB has agreed that FAN will be "at the table" when the planning for any changes in use for these facilities is done.

Many neighbors joined the FAN Board to hear the presentation. The mood was positive and hopeful. EWEB is implementing a plan improved by public input. and FAN hopes to help them in that endeavor.
City Offers Matching Grants for Neighborhood Projects, Events
Submitted by Michael Kinnison, City of Eugene Planning and Development Department

The City of Eugene has released a request-for-proposals (RFP) seeking applications for grants for neighborhood physical improvement projects or one-time neighborhood-building events. The popular Neighborhood Matching Grant program was previously operated between 2000 and 2004 and funded projects such as playground improvements, community gardens, and neighborhood events. The program lost funding in 2004 due to budget reductions. The Eugene City Council has allocated $50,000 for each of the fiscal years 2007-2009 to restart the community-building program. A total of 14 projects were funded in 2007.

Proposals will be accepted from groups of people who live, work, or own property within the area affected by the grant. City funds requested must be matched by at least the same amount of cash donations, donated materials, and supplies, or volunteer labor. Grant requests between a minimum of $250 and a maximum of $25,000 will be considered. The value of the total project may not exceed $50,000. Project sites are not required to be on property within City of Eugene limits, but must be within the Urban Growth Boundary. Grant applications must be endorsed by the respective neighborhood association. A citizen advisory committee rates the applications based on tangible neighborhood benefit, community involvement, and project readiness.

Grant packets will be available on the City's web site, www.eugene-or.gov/matchinggrants, and also at the Permit and Information Center at 99 West 10th Ave., and City libraries and community centers. The required pre-review deadline is February 25, 2008. Final applications are due on March 31, 2008. Awards will be announced after the last City Council meeting in May 2008.

For more information about the Neighborhood Matching Grants Program, contact Michael Kinnison, Planning and Development Department, 682-5009, or michael.j.kinnison@ci.eugene.or.us.
Friendly Park Renovation Completed
Submitted by Philip Richardson, Landscape Architect, Eugene Parks and Open Space Division

On Thursday, November 29th, 2007, the renovated Friendly Park playground was opened for play! In addition to incorporating two pieces of the much-loved older equipment (the play structure installed as a volunteer project in 1998 and the original Merry-go-round), the renovation includes new swings, a separate sand and water play area, a slide, a drinking fountain, bike rack, benches, and an accessible picnic table. The equipment is consolidated into a single central area, and surrounded by an ADA accessible path. New trees have also been planted.

You may have noticed that shortly after the blue slide was installed by the contractor, it was quickly removed. That slide was chosen to replace, as closely as possible, the previous metal slide that no longer met current safety standards. Although the manufacturer claimed the new slide would meet current standards, once installed it was clear that it did not. In the interest of public safety, the slide was removed, and a new slide will be selected and installed which will meet current safety standards; it will fit within the available space, and will provide play value similar to the old slide.

We will have a grand re-opening party this summer, and it will include food, games, and live music. Stay tuned, and we'll be sure to publicize it through the newsletter and mailed postcards. If you have any questions, please contact me at 682-4906 or philip.s.richardson@ci.eugene.or.us
One More Letter to the Editor

I am a Friendly Area resident who has used Friendly Park almost daily for the past thirteen years. I routinely talk to other people who use the park regularly. My family and I attended all of the public park design meetings over the past few years. The consensus of the regular park users has always been no or limited "improvements." Maximize grass; minimize concrete and equipment.

A petition was signed by many neighbors supporting the Concept Plan, which included adult stretching equipment, but I don't believe that the signatures translate directly into the notion that the majority of people WANT exercise equipment. The way the petition was presented by the petitioner was "Here is a concept plan. There will be things that you like and things that you don't like. We can't please everybody. Is this something you could live with?"

I believe that many of the signers either don't use the park, so they don't care, or figured that the plan is not as offensive as it could be, so they might as well sign-on for the plan being offered. If it becomes apparent that there is support by more than a small handful of people to install equipment, than I support that. However, at this point, that is not the word on the street. One can stretch one's body without cluttering the park with equipment. The money can be better spent elsewhere.

-Leonie Daniels, FAN Resident