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Council, Sky Lakes join forces on park upgrade

Hospital news | Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Contact: Thomas Hottman

In a meeting covering a wide range of topics Monday night, Klamath Falls City Council voted to enter into two leases with Sky Lakes Medical Center.

The first lease is for a portion of Kit Carson Park to build a “nature play” area and a second lease helps create a small park at the corner of 11th Street and Klamath Avenue.

The overall improvement project to Kit Carson Park will include upgrades to the surface water irrigation system, installation of a backup water source to available city groundwater, construction of a recreational, multi-use pedestrian and bicycle trail network, and revitalizing the current landscape of Kit Carson Park.

“Probably three years ago, I received a call from Sky Lakes CEO Paul Stewart asking us about the frontage there in Kit Carson,” City Manager Nathan Cherpeski said. “As you’ll recall in the last few summers, it’s been pretty brown and dry. Our water right from that comes from excess water in the canal … There is no excess water in the canal. We have not been able to water, so we’ve taken a few steps to try and remedy that, at least around the playground structure.”

The lease gives Sky Lakes control over the area during construction of the play area, which reverts to city control once the project is complete.

“In order for Sky Lakes to be able to enter into a contract with Modoc Contracting we have to have some right to give them the right,” said Barbara DiIaconi, attorney for Sky Lakes. “That’s what the lease is for.”

Sky Lakes Medical Center will fund the design and construction of the area at Kit Carson Park, Cherpeski said.

“We will be doing the trail,” Cherpeski said. “Our streets crews will take some time doing that.”

Councilman Bill Adams cast the sole no vote on the lease negotiation for Kit Carson Park.

“I personally am not interested in the city being in a contract with Sky Lakes,” Adams said. “I’d like to have nothing to do with the hospital, I’d like to have nothing to do with their board situation, and I’d really like to see them go elsewhere with their money and do something somewhere else.”

Van Dyke memorial park

City council also approved a lease 4-1 with Sky Lakes for a lease to create a park at 11th Street and Klamath Avenue, in which Adams was also the sole no vote.

Sky Lakes bought 1100 and 1112 Main St., with the intention of transforming the space into a park dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Stephanie Van Dyke, who served as medical director of Sky Lakes Wellness Center.

“Their proposal is actually to have the park start on Main Street and then wrap around,” Cherpeski said. “We need to engage with the hospital and understand what they think the park would look like.

“Certainly it would be a significant investment in the downtown,” Cherpeski added.

Cherpeski said there needs to be more discussion between the city and the medical center as far as details of the park.

Final design for the park will go before the city’s Parks Advisory Committee and the council for final approval.

“I personally don’t believe we need another park in the downtown area,” Adams said. “I think it needs to go back on the tax rolls.”

Councilwoman Kendall Bell responded: “I actually think there’s a lot of support for this park from feedback I’ve gotten over probably the last year and a half.”

‘The Grocery Pub’ to open in Mills Addition

Council members also voted to rezone property for a new eatery in the Mills Addition called The Grocery Pub at 1201 Division St. It also will make a recommendation to Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) for the pub.

Owner and current Bend resident Benjamin Siebel’s hope is to reopen the 1,260-square-foot convenience store located in the Mills Addition as a grocery store and restaurant.

“It’s not primarily a drinking establishment,” Siebel said. “It’s a neighborhood grocery store, deli restaurant with kind of a pub aspect to it. We’re really looking forward to being a place for the local community. We’re not looking to sell spirits,” Siebel added. “We want a really family-friendly atmosphere where families can come and enjoy themselves.”

Councilman Matt Dodson praised Seibel for the project.

“Great to see people are interested in investing in that neighborhood,” Dodson said.

‘Streets for all people’ policy

Council members also voted 4-1 to table the Streets for All People policy to a later date, which proposes to increase connectivity to streets within city limits.

“It brings together a lot of documents we already have,” said Erik Nobel, planning manager for Klamath Falls. “We have the community development ordinance, we have the Klamath Falls Urban Area Transportation Plan, we have the city’s engineering standards and so on.

“It really brings the themes that are in each of those documents down to one, concise policy so we can have a developer come to our counter or someone who just moves here and we can say here, this is what our streets are about.”

The Streets for All People policy also introduces a new concept to Klamath Falls, according to Nobel.

“That’s the street connectivity concept,” Nobel said. “My opinion it would make subdivisions more unique.”

Adams and Councilman Dan Tofell dissented

“What I see is more politically correct, nanny state policies, that comes from the Willamette Valley,” Adams said.

“We’re not the Willamette Valley, we’re not a huge city,” Adams added. “We don’t need this kind of stuff.”

Tofell expressed uncertainty as to the impact on developers.

Nobel said the policy has been submitted to Klamath County but has not been adopted yet.

“They are waiting for the city and they will debate on their own,” Nobel said.