Our Charter Amendment Is The Better Way

Nancy Gronowski’s Citizen’s View, “Don’t be fooled by LoveLOParks: There’s a better way”, misrepresents our citizen-led initiative with misleading commentary in this week’s LO Review.

Ms. Gronowski offers no tangible solutions in her opinion piece other than “business as usual.” And, instead of discussing our citizen-led initiative’s text to “limit development” in 15 natural areas with our coalition, Ms. Gronowski has taken it upon herself to public express a misinformed and misleading opinion.

We have taken a proactive approach after the City’s decades of inaction and negative actions. A local initiative is our right to implement policy when the City has refused. Our Charter amendment thoughtfully and concisely states clear intentions toward limiting development while reinforcing the necessity for proper park management. And, our amendment has been reviewed with attorneys and confirmed to meet our goals.

We agree with Ms. Gronowski’s that each natural park must have Management Plan. In fact, each should have a Master Plan. Many don’t have either today — far fewer than Ms. Gronowski alludes.

Our initiative is NOT about park management. Our initiative IS about protecting our natural areas by imposing sensible development limitations to preserve them as natural habitats. Ms. Gronowski confuses the distinction between legal protections, park planning, and park management in her opinion piece. And, she fails to address the vast history of negative actions and inactions by our City toward several natural areas — in direct conflict with the community they represent. Each artifact is distinct, separate, and necessary.

Just The Facts

Gronowski: “…would not allow paved trails for ADA access…”
LoveLOParks: While our Charter amendment prohibits asphalt and concrete hard surface trails, decomposed granite and/or tightly packed crushed gravel is an alternative used in natural areas across the nation to meet ADA requirements. Such materials make for durable natural trails suitable for wheelchairs, strollers, and bicycles. The amendment also provides for “boardwalks” to ensure “access to the public.”

Gronowski: “…would limit the development of access roads for fire and emergency vehicles.”
LoveLOParks: A hypothetical problem? Most of these existing natural parks are relatively small with mountainous terrain. There are no current plans to develop access roads in them. The larger natural areas, such as Cooks Butte, have existing access roads that would be usable in such situations. Additionally, proper trail planning could facilitate such emergency needs. Our amendment’s text concisely states the intent for providing accessible and safe access that mitigates fire hazards.

Gronowski: “…would limit management techniques by preventing thinning and remove of trees for forest management and healthy habitats.”
LoveLOParks: Our Charter amendment states clearly the community’s intent for maintaining our natural areas. It ONLY prohibits the City from cutting any tree for the PURPOSES OF commercial logging. Thinning and removing dangerous trees and recouping the costs IS NOT commercial logging — this is park maintenance, which is allowed in our amendment’s text.

Gronowski: “…would eliminate parking lots at trailheads…”
LoveLOParks: Our Charter amendment DOES NOT eliminate parking. The facts are clear:

  • Existing parking lots are unaffected and can be maintained
    • Bryant Woods (connector to Canal Woods & River Run)
    • Stevens Meadows
    • West Waluga Park
  • Many parks have access to adjacent parking
    • Cooks Butte (4 entrances w/ ample street parking)
    • Hallinan Woods
    • Springbrook Park
  • Existing park master plans for natural parks are exempt
    • Canal Acres (Bryant Woods, Canal Acres, River Run)
    • Iron Mountain
    • Stevens Homestead (connector to Stevens Meadows & Cooks Butte)
    • Woodmont Natural Area
  • Remaining parks size and geography likely unsuitable for in-park parking lots
    • Cornell Natural Area (3.2 acres)
    • Glennmorrie Greenway (1.3 acres)
    • Kerr Open Space (10 acres)
    • Lamont Springs Natural Area (0.5 acre)
    • South Shore Natural Area (9.2 acres)

Gronowski: “…would allow potentially detrimental uses such as single-track mountain biking and horse trails.”
LoveLOParks: Our Charter amendment DOES NOT absolve the City from creating Park-specific Master Plans. The amendment imposes baseline development criteria but does not mandate uses. The amendment specifically states that the City “MAY” (as opposed to SHALL or MUST) provide trails for various uses. A Park Master Plan is the instrument to identify which passive uses are appropriate for a specific natural park. And, City Council needs to adopt appropriate code for enforcement of such uses.

Gronowski: “Instead of ill-advised charter amendment…let’s develop effective management of each natural area…”
LoveLOParks: A Park Management Plan specifies the threats and needs for maintaining a healthy and safe park. A Master Plan is not a binding, legal document that would limit development. Our Charter amendment is a legal contract between the City and its citizens.

Gronowski: “Let’s come together to development meaningful solutions…using the tools already in place.”
LoveLOParks: Ms. Gronowski’s “better way” is the “same way” or “business as usual.” She ignores the overwhelming history of negative actions and inactions — these are facts:

  • The City’s failure to enact sensible development limitations in the City Code for decades. Code allows “conditional uses.”
  • The City’s park plan proposals to protect our natural areas in the City Code, such as “heritage landscapes”
  • The City’s failure to invest in park master plans for a majority of these natural parks
  • The City’s failure to invest in park management plans for a majority of these natural parks
  • The City’s attempts to place a telecommunications tower in Cooks Butte against the grantors’ AND community’s wishes — 3 times in 3 decades – 1994, 2002, and 2019
  • The City’s consideration to sell Bryant Woods or develop into soccer fields in the 1980’s
  • The City’s consideration to place a soccer field and tennis center in Cooks Butte in the 1980’s
  • The City’s attempts to expand the Tennis Center into Springbrook Park – 2000 and 2018 (but, stopped when reminded of the Charter restriction)
  • The City’s desire to turn Springbrook Park into a major athletic facility in 1978, forcing the community to enact Charter protections
  • Developers desire to turn land adjacent to Springbrook Park into high density housing in 1973, forcing the community to enact a bond to purchase the land — adding it to Springbrook Park

Without legal protection, some will see these natural areas as an opportunity to develop them. Our Charter amendment is a legal contract between the City and its citizens that imposes sensible development limitations, keeping these areas as natural habitats. This contract can only be amended by our vote, not City Councils’. It emphasizes the community’s commitment to our local environment and protecting these finite natural areas in our community.