E. Ore. mayor contemplates park for peacefulness

3/26/2013 4:00 PM
By Associated Press

IRRIGON, Ore. (AP) — The city of Irrigon is contemplating a $500,000 new park where residents can escape the hustle and bustle of life and reflect in a quiet refuge.

Mayor David Burns envisions his proposed Irrigon Peace Park as a serene valley dug into the community greenway along Highway 730, complete with community gardens, war memorials and a relaxing waterfall.

The City Council passed a resolution March 19 that authorizes City Manager Jerry Breazeale to apply for a local government grant through the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. If approved, the funding could cover up to 60 percent of the project's cost.

Initial designs measure the park at 210 by 70 feet, tucked five feet below street level and surrounded by 4-foot rolling hills to block noise.

The idea, Burns said, is a place for people to let their troubles float away and bring peace.

"We all get stressed out. We all get worried. That's what this world is all about now,"?Burns said. "Hopefully, this park will create a real small opportunity to come in and just forget about all that."

Burns came up with the concept early this year after a meeting with Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner. Smith brought in Steve Kay, grants division manager with the state parks department, to work with city leaders on developing a park.

Irrigon has two parks in the greenway: Don Baxter Skate Park opened in 2007, and Trevor Fox Memorial Children's Park in 2010. This proposal, however, is different, Burns said.

Most parks are noisy by nature as a place of celebration, he said. This valley would promote peaceful reflectivity.

"You can sit and contemplate, you can read a book or have a picnic,"?Burns said. "We're serious about this. We want it to be a very pleasant, quiet setting."

One section would be community gardens, and another set aside for war memorials honoring local fallen soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The end would feature a set of rock cliffs and gentle waterfall into a small pond.

Like any project, the question comes down to funding, Burns said. His goal is to foot the entire bill through a variety of grants and save the taxpayers any money out of pocket.

Burns estimated the cost at $500,000 and said it is still possible the community could decide to turn away the proposal.

"I?have heard some comments that we don't need any more parks in Irrigon, if it's going to cost us any money,"?he said.

Breazeale feels good about their chances of securing a local government grant to take care of a bulk of the funding, once the final proposal is complete. Otherwise, the park is unlikely to move forward.

"These grants are competitive, and they don't have enough money to fund all good projects,"?Breazeale said. "We hope that ours will rise to the top because of the message of peace that goes with it."


Information from: East Oregonian, http://www.eastoregonian.info

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