Keeping Up at Cook Park
At 79 acres, Cook Park is the largest of Tigard’s 23 developed parks. Within the park, people have access to the Tualatin River for fishing and kayaking; recreational activities like bike riding and birdwatching; and sports fields for Little League and soccer games. Ninety percent of Tigard residents surveyed report satisfaction with parks and open spaces in Tigard. Yet city staff struggle to keep up with routine maintenance.
“We have lots of people who visit the park every day,” says Chad Morrow, a Parks senior utility worker. “At the end of the day, this heavy use impacts the park in ways that we can’t easily fix.”
Take the sports fields as an example. Morrow estimates that in the height of the season his team spends at least 30 hours per week maintaining the fields for league play. The irrigation system at Cook Park alone requires 20 or more hours per week in the summer.
“I am not able to get to all of the stuff that I want to do each day,” Morrow continues. “I know this is true for our whole team.”
Parks maintenance in Tigard is funded at a level that is 62 percent of the national average. Tigard spends $3,645 per acre to maintain parks and open spaces; the national average is $5,866 per acre. The city has a backlog of parks in need of maintenance and repair; this results in items like weeds in the butterfly garden, fences in need of mending and silt covering the trails after a heavy rain.
The current maintenance priorities in Cook Park include:
- Resurfacing the trail to 108th Avenue, which has not been redone since 1998;
- Replacing the park’s 25-old playground equipment; and
- Replacing the 35-year-old irrigation system in the picnic area.
However, without additional funds it will be necessary to begin making cuts in the Parks maintenance budget. These cuts may mean:
- Reduced mowing, fertilization, pruning and planting.
- Delayed responses to irrigation problems and needed maintenance of park equipment like shelters, fencing, fountains, courts, benches and tables.
- Delayed replacement and repair of parking lots, curbs, playgrounds and irrigation zones.
An April 2017 poll shows that 55 percent of respondents believe the quality of life in Tigard will decrease if significant budget cuts were made to Parks and Recreation.