City News

Cottage Grove thinking ‘green’: Proposed county park levy would revitalize Baker Bay

BOBBY STEVENS / THE CHRONICLE

The Cottage Grove City Council convened Monday to discuss issues facing natural areas in greater Lane County — a potential ballot measure pitched by a Lane County Parks Division Manager Brett Henry and to appoint members to the city’s Urban Forestry Committee. 

In the 2018 Lane County Parks & Open Space Master Plan, the Board of County Commissioners adopted a core goal to “re-invigorate and revitalize targeted parks as thriving, family-friendly outdoor activity hubs through redesign, renovation, and programming to help position Lane County as the best county for outdoor recreation and play.” 

The proposed five-year levy at 16 cents per one thousand dollars assessed property value would generate approximately $6 million per year for a total of $31 million over the life of the levy. The levy would improve and invest in parks, trails, water access, water quality and natural areas. In Cottage Grove, the levy funds would support general maintenance, road work around the Baker Bay campground and marina as well as the Row River Trail. 

In a letter of support, Len Blackstone wrote, “Personally, I have wonderful memories of my wife, Deb, and I raising our kids years ago and experiencing hours of family enjoyment at Baker Bay. But, candidly, given the current conditions, today’s memories would not be nearly as positive. These parks are important assets for us in Cottage Grove as a rural town. And this negative situation needs to change.” 

In a public hearing Tuesday, the Lane County Board of Commissioners met to discuss adopting the potential five-year local option levy for county parks funding and vote whether to approve an order establishing the ballot title, questions and summary to place the measure on the ballot during the Nov. 8 election. At press time, the resulting vote was not declared. 

“The general feedback we received so far tells us to focus on investments and accessibility improvements,” Henry said. “We need to look at accessibility improvement, new recreation opportunities, conservation, educational programming, improving water access and revamping existing facilities. This will all be voted on Tuesday.” 

Cottage Grove City Planner Eric Mongan went before the council to request two members join the Urban Forestry Advisory Committee (UFAC) and aid in the group’s efforts to develop a “dynamic Cottage Grove Urban Forestry Management Plan.” 

The committee aims to establish a comprehensive urban forest management plan, review parking lot standards, review park strip standards, review list of approved tree species and types, review riparian protection standards and summarize current tree management practices/programs in town. 

City Councilors Chalice Savage and Greg Ervin stepped forward to be the council representatives on the UFAC. 

Next week, the Cottage Grove city council will meet in a special session to vote on the proposed Highway 99 homeless shelter. While previous discussions suggested the city may pursue purchase of a former Nazarene Church to house the site, no formal proposal has been put forth by the City Manager’s Office. On Monday, the city council voted unanimously to remove the public comment forum from the Aug. 16 agenda to “speed up the process,” said Mayor Jeff Gowing. All interested citizens are able to provide written testimony to the city recorder prior to the meeting.