Recreational amenities, including a new city park and pool, will be the subject of discussion at the July 24 John Day City Council meeting.
The council will vote on three action items: the purchase of a 10-acre property on both sides of the John Day River near the north end of Canton Street, approval of funding for a feasibility study for a new aquatics facility to replace Gleason Pool and an agreement to proceed with appraisal and negotiations for the sale of city land at the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site to the state.
These three actions will tie in with other city infrastructure projects, from the Innovation Gateway at the former Oregon Pine property west of town to a new trails network running along the John Day River to the Seventh Street Complex.
It’s been 21 years since a plan was written that tied the public pool and Kam Wah Chung, City Manager Nick Green told the Eagle. With all the other city projects underway, public support for more recreational amenities and the city taking over Gleason Pool at the end of the 2020 season, now was the time to bring these matters to the forefront for another public discussion, he said.
The John Day-Canyon City Parks and Recreation District currently manages Gleason Pool, which is 60 years old and open only 12 weeks per year. A 2017 survey of Grant County residents indicated strong public support existed for a new aquatics center and more outdoor recreational opportunities.
Over time, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department acquired about 1.5 acres at the Kam Wah Chung site, and a master plan was developed in 2009 and updated in 2012. Ultimately, the state wants to build a new interpretive facility at the Kam Wah Chung site to replace the current museum across the street.
As approved by the state parks planning commission, the plan calls for the state to acquire the three acres of city park land surrounding Kam Wah Chung in exchange for cash that could be used to leverage grants for a new city pool.
“The city would like to pursue this option with the state in order to create a world-class heritage site in our community,” Green said. “The age and condition of our current pool, coupled with the strategic opportunity to create new recreational facilities with improved street access along the John Day River, make this a logical time to reopen negotiations.”
Green recommends that the city approve spending $17,500 for a feasibility study by Counsilman-Hunsaker, a leader in planning and design of aquatic centers. He would like to have three viable pool options: a basic one similar to the current facility, an intermediate option and “what we want,” he told the Eagle.
“Our goal in this process should be to create an all-season facility that will provide year-round opportunities for recreation that is achievable within our financial constraints,” he said.
In any case, planning should start now to avoid a time in the future where the pool is closed and no viable options exist to replace it, he said.
The council will also consider buying 10 acres of land along the John Day River from Colleen and Celeste Hill for $115,000. Seven acres on the north side of the river would be acquired using money from the Sewer Fund, as part of that land would be used by the city’s new sewer treatment plant.
Located between Valley View Drive and the river, the property includes the Davis Creek ravine, which is currently overgrown with junipers and inaccessible to the public.
According to Green, the city could improve the land with trails and parking to connect residents in the Charolais Heights, Valley View Drive and Bridge Street neighborhoods to the riverfront. The land also would be an ideal location for a botanical garden using reclaimed water from the new sewer treatment plant, he said.
The four acres along the south side of river would be held in the Street Fund until the park design, including the trail system and bridges, for the site are completed by consultant Walker Macy as part of Transportation Growth Management grant-funded planning and these plans are approved by the city planning commission.
The land is located immediately west of the new cul de sac being constructed as part of the current Canton Street extension. Through lot line adjustments, the city could acquire enough land along Canyon Creek to connect this new city park with a trail system to Kam Wah Chung.
The city council will meet in the John Day Fire Hall on Tuesday, July 24, beginning at 7 p.m.