Subscribe Today! Please read: Readers of local content on the Herald and News website – heraldandnews.com – will require a subscription beginning today. For the first few months, non-subscribers will still be able to view 10 articles for free. If you are not already a subscriber, now is a great time to join for as little as $10/month!
Klamath Commons in Downtown Klamath Falls

Construction continues at the future site of Klamath Commons, a new downtown greenspace Wednesday, Nov. 7. Klamath Falls city officials recently met with consultants and parks board members to further discuss the city’s parks master plan.

New recreational facilities, site improvements and other elements were among top recommendations for Klamath Falls parks moving forward.

The Klamath Falls City Council and parks advisory board met Monday night for a special work session to further touch on results and input from the city’s continued parks master plan. The goal is to address more than 600 acres across 50 parks and 12 miles of trails. Projections of the plan would reflect on the next 15 to 20 years.

Staff from MIG Inc., a landscape planning company that works with cities across the state, stopped by to further ask what city officials wanted to see in their parks.

Cost estimates for full funding came in between $25-35 million across the board, or $2.5 million annually.

Priorities put on existing parks

Project investments in the latest MIG report ranged from less than $50,000 for smaller investments up to $5 million for overhauls at larger parks.

Examples of smaller parks include Eldorado, Richmond and Southside, while Veterans Memorial Park and Moore Park were on the high end.

Among more than 700 people surveyed last spring, most people in Klamath Falls said that they wanted to see improvements in current parks. Of those who answered, 44 percent said they wanted a greater variety of recreation in existing parks, followed by nearly 38 percent who wanted to expand current trail networks.

Only about 14 percent said that they wanted to see new parks added into the area.

“I think your community sort of has a pulse on the reality and where your city is at,” Molly Cooney-Mesker, project associate with MIG, said Monday.

Council, park board concerns

Members of city council and the city’s parks advisory board brought up a series of suggestions and concerns of their own moving forward.

Councilor Bill Adams revisited prior points of parks staff and maintenance. Though he said he was glad to see grants available for new parks, he expressed concern that building more would only create additional tasks for an already overburdened staff.

“I really worry that we add more and more workload on the small parks staff we have,” Adams said. “There aren’t grants out there to do maintenance, and a lot of people don’t think about that.”

Councilor Dan Tofell, mentioning the past summer’s fire season, said that they should also keep recent environmental changes in mind. Most days in July and August were considered “unhealthy” or “very unhealthy” for air quality in the Klamath Basin, which also heavily affected how long the Ella Redkey Pool was able to stay open.

“Again, we’re dealing with some really huge issues in Oregon with our wildfires,” Tofell said.

Parks advisory board member Todd Kepple also touched on the need for additional signs for people who explore parks from out of town.

“All of these trails are out there, but if you’re not familiar with the community it’s kind of hard to find your way around them,” Kepple said.

Recent projects, changes ahead

The latest changes in Klamath Falls parks include new ordinances that ban public smoking, a new set of playground equipment at the Mills-Kiwanis Park and a new downtown green space along Main Street and 11th Street that could be completed sometime next year.

Called Klamath Commons, the park started as a fundraising effort and memorial for the late Dr. Stephanie Van Dyke. Sky Lakes Medical Center is footing the bill for the project, which initial estimates put at about $900,000, according to previous reports.

Sky Lakes Spokesman Tom Hottman said that all public works improvements — this includes sidewalks and public utility lines — were complete. All private improvements are now underway, with construction continuing as weather allows.

“As long as weather holds, they’ll be able to do more of the development work,” Hottman said.