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Message - Save Rexius Trail from concrete!
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Posted by  Ursula Lindqvist on March 07, 2003 at 11:20:54:

Dear Neighbor,

This letter is a plea to all of you who run, walk, and enjoy the Rexius cedar chip trail and its surrounding natural beauty. Please appeal to the city parks department not to pour concrete in the meadows of this peaceful, natural space in Southeast Eugene!

You might have heard that the city is looking to spend $200,000 on "improvements" to the five-acre woodsy area enclosed in the part of the Rexius trail that loops around West Amazon Drive to Martin Street to Alpine Loop. The city parks department calls this area "Frank Kinney Park" and has declared that it needs to be developed into a real urban park. The city's concept plan for the park includes paving a six-foot wide concrete sidewalk through the meadow with concrete "entrances" on Martin Street to the south and West Amazon Drive to the north, with a permanent bridge across the creek. In addition, the plan calls for constructing an artificial playground in the open meadow bordered by Martin Street and Alpine Loop, where the running trail loops around.

At a recent neighborhood meeting called to discuss the city's plans, parents of small children testified to how much they value the natural playground that the creek, woods, cedar trail, and meadows already provide. None of those present wanted an artificial playground there. But the landscape architect who designed the concept plan, Robin Hostick, views our beautiful woods, meadows, and cedar chip trail as an urban park to be developed according to the neighborhood's demographic data. He believes concrete walkways and an artificial playground are standard features of an urban neighborhood park. He does not seem to understand the value of preserving this peaceful, natural space as it is. If you do understand, please speak out now!

Mr. Hostick has been sincere in his efforts to consider the needs of children and the elderly in his plan for the park land. But he cannot see the forest for the trees. His plan seeks to serve target populations, but it has no guiding vision that preserves the natural character of the park land for everyone. For example, he proposes building a wide concrete path, sidewalks, and a bridge in order to make the park land accessible to people in wheelchairs and pushing strollers. It was suggested to him that the city use more natural paving materials, such as gravel, as parks in Europe often do. His response: a non-concrete path would be too expensive to maintain. This raises another issue: if the city is unwilling to pay to maintain the capital improvements once they are made, why make them? Mr. Hostick has acknowledged that there is no money explicitly set aside to maintain the park land once developed. Look at the city's track record in our area of the Rexius trail: major portions of cedar chip running trail are under water for much of the year. Do we have cause to expect better maintenance in the future, particularly in these lean times?

The city has not provided details about the size or design of the proposed artificial playground, which would be located right near the narrow residential street where LTD busses pass through every half hour and where there is very little street parking. Parents have pointed out that there are at least three artificial playgrounds already nearby: at Fox Hollow and Parker elementary schools and at Shadow Wood Park. Amazon Creek and its woods and meadows comprise the only natural playground that remains within walking distance for our neighborhood's children. Please, let's not take this from them!

Finally, if the city develops this park land into something more "civilized," the much-altered landscape of Southeast Eugene could assist developers in securing support from local authorities for developing the Amazon Headwaters at the end of West Amazon Drive. Sound city planning should include a vision for the entire neighborhood, not just the park land. Development does not happen naturally and inevitably, as Mr. Hostick has suggested. It results from the decisions of those in power.

Mr. Hostick says the final decision regarding the park's development will be up to him and his supervisor, parks manager Andrea Riner. Mr. Hostick's telephone number is 682-4800 and his email address is robin.a.hostick@ci.eugene.or.us. Ms. Riner's telephone number is 682-4909. You can also download a comment form at this web site: http://www.ci.eugene.or.us/pw/PARKS/Kinney/FKP_index.htm. There will also be a third neighborhood meeting on the concept plan, so please make time to attend. We need you to help preserve this beautiful, natural space for ourselves, our parents, and our children.


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