Salem, Oregon Public Parks History
SOURCE: COURTESY OF THE CITY OF SALEM MANAGER'S OFFICE - 1995
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There is more to a park than trees, turf, play equipment, and enjoyment. Each park represents an idea that a group of interested citizens and staff made into reality. It also represents taxes, federal grants, donations, a growing Parks and Recreation Department, accounting, legal agreements, budgets, advisory boards, City Council decisions, recreation activities, professional expertise, park rangers, and modern equipment.
Therefore this information is more than a guide - it is a historical document. It is written by Salem's most dedicated and foremost authority on the City's park and recreation history, Hazel Waltz. She began as secretary in 1954, when the Salem Parks Department was established. Her involvement and first-hand observations have touched nearly every park improvement in Salem. On December 30, 1976, Hazel retired after twenty-two years of service as Secretary to the Park and Recreation Director.
Parks and recreation reflect the personality of the city. This information will give you a glimpse of Salem's personality.
Bob Maxey, Director
Robert S. Moore, City Manager
Dick Seideman, Chairman
Park Recreation and Departments - City of Salem
The history of PARKS & RECREATION in Salem is really the history of both the Parks Department and the Recreation Department, which were separate departments until July, 1970. At that time, both departments became the responsibility of the Regional Park and Recreation Agency.
The Recreation Department was started in 1934, when the School District and City informally agreed to enter into a joint sponsorship of a recreation program. The School District served as the fiscal agent for the joint program and the Physical Education Director served as the Recreation Director. Support for the program came largely from the School District for the next eight years.
In 1942, the School District and City entered into another informal agreement for providing recreation programs. This time the City and School District agreed to share equally in the cost of Recreation. Each year the Recreation Director worked with recreation interest groups, City Manager and Superintendent of Schools in development of a budget.
Half of the program costs were entered in the City Recreation budget. The other half of the costs, plus the cost of recreation programs conducted by the School District in suburban schools, was recommended to the School Board. When approved by the voters in the annual budget election, it became the School District Recreation budget. This informal relationship continued for the next 26 years.
In the spring of 1968, the School District budget was defeated. When the budget was finally approved, funds for recreation programs had been eliminated. The summer recreation program was already in progress, with the use of City funds, and the City decided to finance the "summer program" with its share of the recreation budget. The program was for residents of the City of Salem only. On Labor Day, 1968, all recreation activities in Salem terminated.
In the spring of 1969, the School District's portion of the budget for financing recreation programs was again defeated. The City succeeded in approving a one-year recreation levy of $106,708.00 for a "summer only" program...three swim pools opened, baseball and softball.
In December, 1969, after repeated recommendations from the members of the Salem Park & Recreation Advisory Board, City Council, took action to designate the Regional Park and Recreation Agency as responsible to organize and conduct a comprehensive community recreation program. The recreation program finally got under way it June, 1970, with a special one-month appropriation. When the City's 1970-1971 General Fund Budget was approved there was $237,503.00 for recreation programs.
The same year, 1970-1971, the School District 24J's budget included funds for Community Education program, shifting interest from recreation to Community Education. Interest in Community Education accelerated after 43 citizens traveled to Flint, Michigan, in November of 1969. The program has been in operation for six years. Recreation staff works closely with Community Education staff. The City contributed $15,000.00 per year toward this program until the defeat of the City operating levy, in May, 1976.
The City of Salem has had a Parks Department for forty-one years. The Parks Department was established by Ordinance in October, 1954. Prior to that, the Personnel Officer supervised the park maintenance employees. In 1950, a city report states, "Salem has eight park areas with a total of 113 acres as follows:
In October, 1959, five and one-half years after the Salem Park Department was established, the Regional Park and Recreation Agency was formed. The Agency functions as the Park Department for the City of Salem, Marion and Polk Counties. Each jurisdiction has an Advisory Board and the Director of the Agency serves as the Executive Secretary of the Boards. Fiscal and personnel administration is performed by the City of Salem.
With the assistance of federal open space and state matching grants, Salem acquired over 250 acres of park land in the 1960's. This more than doubled its previously acquired park land. Financing of Salem parks is from the General Fund, 3 continuing tax levies, federal and state grants, and private donations. Additionally, the Agency works closely with other public jurisdictions toward the development of their lands; i.e., school lands, college lands, penitentiary lands, state properties.
Actual development of park and recreation facilities has been slow. Citizen and interest groups sought development of all types of park and recreation facilities during the early 1970's. This community involvement, combined with the availability of Revenue Sharing, Community Development Block Grant, and CETA dollars, led to a great surge in park and recreation expansion in Salem.
Park Areas - Historic Information
Aldrich Park (Lewis P.)
15th and Mill Streets SE
A .51 acre piece of tax-reverted land known as Mill Street Park was set aside for park purposes in 1950. The opportunity to provide a larger, more highly developed urban type park was made possible with the generous donation of funds form the Donna W. Aldrich Trust. The project appealed to Stuart Compton, Administrator of the Trust, who was charged with providing facilities for boys and girls of the Salem community. HUD readily approved a matching open space grant as the park was located in the Ferry-Oaks Urban Renewal area. The park was renamed Lewis P. Aldrich Park.
Parents from all parts of the City come to Aldrich Park with carloads of youngsters to climb on the space rocket, run on the serpentine walk and crawl through the large tubes. A ball diamond and multi-use court are available for older youngsters.
Aldrich Park is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when community leaders become involved and interested in the development of park and recreation projects.
The developer of Neef Subdivision gave this small wooded area to Marion County for a park in 1941. The area was annexed to the City in 1964, and Marion County transferred ownership of the land to the city. Development includes: play equipment and a small picnic area. Use is limited to residents of the immediate neighborhood.
In July of 1976, Bradley Park was one of five parks scheduled for closure because of the defeat of the City tax levy. Citizens of the neighborhood have organized to perform maintenance tasks in order to keep the park open.
Brush College neighborhood park is located across from Brush College Elementary School. It is a wooded area with two springs. Gibson Creek flows through the area. In 1923, Cornelia B. Harriett, an early pioneer, deeded 5.97 acres of land to the Brush College Community Club. Club members maintained the park until after World War II when interest waned and the park became overgrown with brush. According to the deed, the land then reverted to the First church of Christ Scientist. Through the efforts of the Polk County Park and Recreation Commission, the Church gave the land to Polk County for a public park.
An additional 2.87 acres was added to the park in 1959, a gift of Roy and Bertha Jacobson, developer of the Vick Heights Subdivision.
Development of the park was accomplished by Polk county with a matching Land and Water grant and includes a picnic shelter, play equipment, pit toilets, paved roadway and parking lot. A notation on the entrance sign reads: "Acquired and Developed by Polk County - 1960-1970."
In 1970, the ownership of the park was transferred to the City of Salem due to annexation.
The shelter is used for family reunions and group picnics. The "Old Timers' Picnic" annually brings together many of the original members of the old Brush College Community Club.
Salem residents are fortunate to have Bush's Pasture Park, a large urban park, just south of the central business district. The park is enhanced by the natural groves of old oak trees, spacious, green pastoral setting, an orchard with fruit and flowering trees, over 2,000 roses in its rose garden, and over a mile of paved paths for bicyclists, joggers or strollers.
Pringle Creek meanders through the eastern portion and a section is retained in its natural state with various species of trees, shrubs, ferns and a wildflower garden area. The addition of Deepwood with its adjoining wooded area reinforces the fragile natural area.
Mr. Asahel Bush, an influential pioneer, built his home in 1877, at a cost of $5,000. It was occupied by Mr. Bush or members of his family for 76 years, until 1953. A year later the Salem Art Association entered into an agreement with the City for the operation of Bush House.
During the next several years, the Art Association worked toward the restoration of the house and began using the first floor as a museum. The second floor became an art gallery. Receptions for artists, lectures and cultural activities were carried on in the house.
Mr. Bush donated the 57-acre eastern portion of his estate to the City in 1917. Bush's intent for the area was that it be used for park and playground purposes. A bond issue to purchase the upper 43 acres, with the historic house and barn, was defeated by Salem citizens in 1945. The following year, voter approval to purchase the site was given only after Willamette University agreed to purchase a 9-acre athletic field in the center of the park.
In 1947, thirty years after the Bush donation, a Master Development Plan for the park was prepared by a Portland firm and development was begun in the early 50's Phillips Field, picnicking facilities along Pringle Creek, and the construction of the Soap Box Derby track by commercial interests were among the first projects accomplished.
Later, the upper lawn area was seeded, cooking units were constructed in the lower area, a driveway into Bush House from High Street and a parking area were paved, and play equipment was installed throughout the park with budgeted and donated funds. Development accelerated with the approval of a park improvement bond issue in 1957.
Four tennis courts, an automatic irrigation system in the upper area, a graveled parking lot and comfort station near Phillips Field were completed. In the mid-50's, the Salem Municipal Rose Garden was dedicated. Roses for the garden were donated by the Wholesale Nursery firms of Armstrong and Howard Rose Co., with the majority coming from Peterson and Dering of Scappoose, Oregon. Mrs. A.R. Tartar donated her collection of "Old Fashioned Rose" to add to the rose garden area.
The orchard area near Mission and High Streets is historically significant. The apple trees were planted by Father Leslie a century ago on the original Donation Land Claim. In about 1927, Miss Sally Bush began interplanting the orchard area with Oriental Cherries, Plums and Ornamental Crabs. Prominent Landscape Architects, Miss Elizabeth Lord and Miss Edith Schryver assisted Miss Sally in the landscaping of the area.
Development was again accelerated in 1966-68 with the availability of Urban Beautification funds. An irrigation system in the ball field area and around Bush Barn and the paving of pedestrian and bike paths through the park were accomplished. Highlights of development in the 70's with Revenue Sharing funds include the resurfacing and lighting of the tennis courts, paving of the upper Leffelle parking lot, and automation of the sprinkling system in the rose garden and orchard area.
Park maintenance facilities for the Park Department were located at Bush Barn when it was destroyed by fire in 1963. The City agreed the maintenance facilities for Parks should be moved from Bush Park and permission was given to the Art Association to reconstruct the Barn for use as an Art Center. Donated funds, along with the insurance money received by the City, were used for construction of the Art Barn.
Activities at the Art Barn center around workshops for all age groups, art exhibits and support for artists. In the first year of operation, there were only four workshops offered and only a few paintings were sold in the Collector's Corner. Today, approximately 30 classes are available for teens and adults. In addition, the Barn in 1976 provides space for a pot shop, kiln, weaving loft, offices and class room space. Approval for the addition was given with the understanding that long-range projection would see the Salem Art Association located in a major cultural center removed from Bush's Pasture Park.
With the removal of the art gallery and workshops from Bush House in 1965, the Art Association continued with the restoration and preservation of the house as a museum. Many of the original furnishings owned by the Bush family were purchased by the Art Association as part of the museum display. Not only is the museum an important tourist attraction with visitors from all parts of the country touring the facility, it is also an important educational experience for school children and citizens of the entire community. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1976, refurbishing of the outside of the house was accomplished financed by a Community Development Block Grant. Donations of materials and labor were freely given. An example was the painting of Bush House and Barn with assistance from the Lifer's Club from the State Penitentiary.
The Salem Art Association has contributed greatly to Salem's cultural, educational and recreational life. The highly successful Bicentennial Art Fair sponsored by the Association in the summer of 1976, is another affirmation of their efforts. The cultural services provided by this active group represents a considerable savings in tax dollars to the citizens of Salem.
Softball play has existed in the lower section of Bush Park since the early 50's and is enjoyed by both players and spectators. As interest and enthusiasm increased, more diamonds were developed, reaching a maximum of a four-field complex in 1971. Due to community concern and inadequate parking, the complex was phased out in the mid-70's leaving one lighted ball field, Phillips Field.
Throughout the history of Bush Park, requests have been received by various groups to encroach upon the park. These requests include the establishment of a zoo along Pringle Creek, a Boy Scout building, Garden Club Center building, an elementary school adjacent to the park so that playground facilities could be utilized, and the widening of Mission Street. The Salem Park and Recreation Advisory Board has consistently recommended against such encroachments.
The Board also endorsed the 1975 Community Goals Park Committee recommendation, "that Willamette University, in its long-range plan, consider relocation of its present athletic facilities, and that the soap box derby track facility be closely observed and consideration given to its removal."
With all of these many changes, Bush Park continues to grow as the pride and focal point of the Salem community. Salem would not be Salem without Bush's Pasture Park!
Carson Springs is a nature study area adjacent to Judson Junior High School. Two pieces of land are involved, .32 acres on City land and 2.55 on School District land. It is a natural, wooded area with Pringle Creek running through the center.
Development was accomplished through work parties from the Salem School District, Salem Junior Woman's Club and the City. The total area remains in its natural state with a bridge across Pringle Creek, an outdoor classroom with log seats and a short trail system. It is used primarily by Judson Junior High School students.
Cascades Gateway is a large urban park that enjoys high use from residents of the entire area, particularly during the summer months. The Beaver Grove Shelter, Bluegill and Arrowhead picnicking areas host many family gatherings, reunions and group picnics. Other uses of the park include boating and fishing in Walter Wirth Lake and Mill Stream.
Cascades Park came into reality due to the vision and energy of Salem Area Chamber of Commerce officials. In 1957, the Chamber sold land to the State Highway Department for a gravel borrow pit with the understanding that the land would ultimately revert to the City of Salem for a park. With the help of Federal Open Space funds, the City purchased an additional parcel of land from the Chamber in 1963.
Development was started in the early 60's and included the swimming beach, bathhouse-concession building and a bridge across Mill Creek to the picnic areas. In the late 60's several Urban Beautification grants provided matching funds for paving the parking lot and roadways and construction of a shelter building, rest rooms and irrigation system in the picnicking area.
Mill Stream, which runs through Cascades Gateway Park, has become the spawning area for fall Chinook Salmon. This is the result of the State Fish Commission project of rearing fingerling salmon in Walter Wirth Lake. The lake was stocked from 1968 to 1973. The first salmon returned to spawn in Mill Stream in 1970. The return of these large adult salmon provides many hours of viewing pleasure to Salem citizens who gather along the banks.
Cascades Gateway Park has been an excellent example of the City of Salem working with community groups for the benefit of Salem residents.
Clark Creek neighborhood park area was acquired in 1969 with the help of an Open Space HUD grant that reimbursed the City 50% of the acquisition cost. Development of the park began in 1976 when the Public Works Department started design of a storm detention basin in the area. A grove of trees along the banks of Clark Creek will add interest to the park when development is completed.
College Heights is a small neighborhood park. Land for the park was donated to Polk county by H.H. and Pauline Turnidge. Minimum development was accomplished by the Polk County Park and Recreation Commission. In 1970, the area was annexed to the City and Polk County transferred the deed to the City of Salem. Play equipment and a small backstop attract neighborhood youngsters to the park.
From 1960 to 1976, the City leased a lot on the corner of D and Winter Streets from the State General Services Department. The area is earmarked to become a part of the Capital Mall area. In 1976, the two pieces of play equipment and picnic table were removed from the park and the State was informed the area will no longer be used as a park.
In the early 70's, the Marion County Historical Society spearheaded a citizen effort to acquire the 4.03 acre property known as Deepwood. The area was located east of Bush's Pasture Park and contained a Victorian mansion with carriage house, formal landscaped gardens, an open meadow and a wooded area called "Deep Woods."
Deepwood House was built by Dr. Luke Port in 1894. Dr. Port lived in the house only a short time before selling it to George and Willie Bingham. Clifford and Alice Brown were the third owners of the home. It was Mrs. Alice Brown, later Alice Brown Powell, who, with the help of her friends, landsape architects Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver, developed the landscaped gardens. It was Mrs. Brown Powell's desire that Deepwood, with its gardens, be preserved for public purposes. She would be pleased with its place on the National Register of Historic Places today.
The acquisition of Deepwood was given support when City Council adopted a resolution stating the City would accept ownership and maintenance of Deepwood if private funds were found for its purchase. The front half of the property was purchased in 1971, and the back portion in 1973. The local share was raised through contributions from the Marion County Historical Society, Walton Trust, Donna W. Aldrich Trust and many groups and individuals from the area. Local contributions were matched by a Federal Open Space grant.
In 1976, the Deepwood Advisory Committee was given recognition for a job well done and since they had fulfilled the tasks for which they were appointed, the Committee was dissolved.
The Friends of Deepwood were organized in September, 1974, to promote the improvement, development, preservation and use of the house and gardens. The Friends of Deepwood have raised funds to employ guide service for the open house days. You may visit the house on specified days for a 75 cent fee for adults, 25 cents for students, and 10 cents for children. (Please note these are 1978 fees).
The house and gardens are open for reservation by the public through the Park and Recreation Agency. There is a fee schedule for use of the house and another for use of the gardens. A resident caretaker is available to care for the house and to maintain the calendar schedule.
A Historic Preservation grant has been approved by the National Park Service to assist with restoration of the house. Painting and a new roof for both the house and carriage house are the main projects to be accomplished. It is a beautiful old house with tiffany stained glass windows that were brought around "The Horn" by ship, and original oak paneling. Deepwood has slowly gained more use for special meetings, weddings and receptions. The grounds are used extensively.
The land for this small neighborhood park was donated to Marion County by the developer of the subdivision as required by the Subdivision Ordinance. Minimum development was accomplished through the cooperative efforts of the developer, interested neighbors, and Marion County. In 1965, Eastgate park was annexed to the City.
According to established Agency policy, Marion County gave the park to the City of Salem for future maintenance and development. The City has added additional play equipment, erected a sign and tiled the open drainage ditch. Use is limited to youngsters of the immediate neighborhood.
The Public Works Department has purchased seven acres of land north of Eastgate Park to use as a detention basin. A dyke will be constructed around the detention basin and the area seeded to grass. The field will be available for recreational use by Little League and residents of the community.
In 1926, the City purchased 7.0 acres of land abutting Englewood School for $6,000. It was the first land purchase made by the City for park and recreation purposes. Over 350 conifer and deciduous trees were located on the site in the center of this residential district.
Early development of the park included a tennis court, picnic areas and a pathway through the park. The tennis court was recently resurfaced, and a fence and basketball backstop installed for multiple use. The park is lighted and future plans call for paving the trail system that meanders through the park.
School District 24J constructed a multi-purpose room adjacent to the school in 1972. The City cooperated by deeding .21 acres of park land and contributing $7,000 toward construction costs. The Recreation Division may schedule use of the multi-purpose room for program activities on a year-round basis when the school is not using the room. These program activities are widely attended, not only by youth of the Englewood area, but from the entire northeast section of the City.
Phelix and Vivian Riedel deeded 1.93 acres of land along the Willamette River to the City in 1959, as required by the Subdivision Ordinance. The property is on Brown Island near the bend of the river known as Eola Bend. The area is undeveloped.
In May, 1973, the Salem Park and Recreation Advisory Board appointed a Sports Field Complex Committee in response to a growing demand from organized sports groups for additional athletic facilities. The need was particularly acute because of the anticipated phase-out of the Bush Park Phillips Fields Nos. 2 and 3 to softball play at the end of the 1975 season.
One of the Committee's recommendations was realized when a 25-year lease agreement was signed for a four-field complex to be developed on the infield at the Oregon State Fairgrounds Race Track. The site level, centrally located and support parking and rest rooms are available. The lease agreement between the State and City was executed in August, 1975. Shortly thereafter, the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation approved a Land and Water development grant.
Development began in September, 1975, and the first of eight softball tournaments was held June 18, 1976. The facility is one of the finest on the west coast and unique in the United States. Development includes an irrigation system, turf, innovative portable fencing, storage area, asphalt pads and improvements to the road around the track. Two fields will be lighted for play in 1977. At other times the field will be used for flat football, soccer and other organized games.
Each year, before the State Fair opens, the portable fence will be removed and stored until the next softball season starts. The green grass is a big improvement to the race track area and adds to the aesthetic enjoyment of race watchers and Fair visitors. It is a good example of intergovernmental cooperation between the City, State and Federal governments in which resources are pooled to provide facilities for the public for the least dollars.
In 1956, the State Fair Board verbally approved the request of the City Park Director for use of 7.0 acres of State Fair land for a park. The park is located at the southeast corner of the parking area and serves as a neighborhood playground. At approximately the same time, the School District deeded a small piece of land adjacent to the Fairgrounds to the City.
Development includes a ballfield, play equipment and a rest room building on the land owned by the City. Two access points from 21st and 24th Streets were paved and fenced.
Because of the defeat of May, 1976, City tax levy, the playground equipment has been removed from Fairgrounds Park and the Fair Board was notified that the City will no longer be using the area as a park. The rest room building was removed.
In 1955, upon the request of City Park Superintendent Walter Wirth, the Utilities Department agreed to the use of its Fairmount Hill Reservoir property as a neighborhood park. The purchase of 12 additional acres of open space and wooded land overlooking the Willamette River was made in the late 60's. A HUD Open Space and Willamette Greenway grant reimbursed the City 75% of the acquisition cost.
Development includes tennis courts on top of the reservoir, a wading pool, restroom facilities and play equipment in an open play area. Future development plans for the entire park area call for picnic areas, trail system and viewpoints overlooking the Willamette River.
Fircrest Park was purchased in 1964, with matching open space funds. The City's promise to provide parks to residents of the newly annexed South Salem area, the availability of federal funds and an attractive grove of fir trees led to the decision to purchase the area. The owners of the dense stand of old growth fir trees had kept their 4.90 - acre piece of land intact while everything else in the neighborhood was being developed.
There are three pedestrian access points leading to the park from the surrounding streets.
Early development was accomplished with the aid of welfare crews and the Salem Marine Corps Reserve. The Corps cleared logs and stumps and hauled in top soil for the ballfield area. Development is limited to a small backstop, play equipment and a multi-use court. The park is used primarily by residents of the immediate area.
The 1.00 - acre Glen Creek Park site was donated by Ronald and Madge Jones in 1966, as a park area for their planned unit development. It is an old rock quarry site. The park has not been developed as it is small and is only 6 blocks from Orchard Heights Community Park currently under development.
Grants Park was envisioned in 1966 when the Salem Park and Recreation Advisory Board suggested Pioneer Trust Company consider the use of Aldrich Trust Funds to expand the school playground. Stuart Compton, Administrator of the Trust, and the City Council agreed to the development of Grant School/Park as the second project for use of Aldrich funds. As a result, eight residential lots north of the school playground were purchased. An agreement with the School district ensured 2.63 acres of school land would be used as part of the development.
A HUD Open Space grant was approved and assisted with the acquisition and development costs. Development includes a neighborhood ball diamond, and picnic shelter. It also has a tot lot with creative log playground equipment built by Park Division crews that include: a platform for climbing, hill climb with slide and bridge with crawl through tile beneath. A paved walkway through the park takes you to a commemorative drinking fountain and sitting area dedicated to Bertha Garner, first grade teacher for 28 years, and Donna W. Aldrich, originator of the trust.
The park is heavily used by school youngsters and neighborhood residents.
Highland Park is divided into two sections. The 1.90 - acre area across Broadway Street from Highland School was set aside for park in 1952. This portion of the park was developed in the late 50's and includes two tennis courts, a ballfield and restroom building. The tennis courts were refurbished and lighted in 1974.
Urban Renewal's North Salem Project area required that land be identified for park. This, coupled with the City policy that where feasible, park land be acquired adjacent to school sites, led to a decision to acquire land and develop a park adjacent to Highland School. With the aid of a HUD Open Space grant, approximately 23 residential lots were acquired by the Urban Renewal Agency in the mid-70's. This land, along with the school land and vacated Columbia, Highland and 5th Streets, brought the total area for park development to 5.10 acres.
Development of Phase I and II have been completed. Features include picnic areas, tot lot, creative play area with Timberform play equipment, hard court game area, large open play area and a bicycle trail along the railroad right-of-way for easy access to the park. Over 160 new trees were added to the park. They include Norway Maple, Vine Maple, Shore Pine and Flowering Cherry. There will be approximately 2 3/4 acres of lawn area when development is completed.
In 1976, the City acquired an additional half-acre of land south of the school which is used for open play.
Through the cooperative efforts of City, School and residents of the neighborhood, the drab Highland School grounds have been transformed into a pleasant, attractive, enjoyable place for youngsters to play and an asset to the entire community.
Hillview Neighborhood Park was purchased in 1966, with a HUD Open Space grant reimbursing the City one-half the cost. Several access points are available with a 50' frontage on Ewald, a 8' easement from Holmes Court, and Lantz Street that dead-ends at the park.
Development of the park was begun in 1974, in response to neighborhood interest. The first phase of development included a partial irrigation system with volunteers assisting in brushing out blackberry vines, planting trees and helping install the baseball backstop. Phase II includes additional irrigation, turf, paths, tot lot and mutil-use court. Phase III completed the development and includes a sign, wooden type play equipment, planting of additional trees, drinking fountain, shelter building and parking.
The park has become the social focal point for the neighborhood and is often referred to as "our park" by those living nearby. This is one place where the neighborhood involvement in design and construction of the park has really worked.
In 1973, the City purchased a cherry orchard adjacent to Hoover School with the assistance of HUD Open Space funds. The City and School District 24J plan to develop the area cooperatively and both have approved the Master Development Plan. The City budgeted funds to start development in 1975-76 and the School District tied its share of development cost to the Bond issue which was approved in May, 1876.
Residents are anxious for their park to be developed and have held fund raising events to purchase play equipment. Two pieces of creative play equipment have been constructed on the school grounds by the Park Subcommittee of the Northeast Salem Community Association (NESCA).
Phase I development, accomplished by the city, was completed in the summer of 1976, and includes a double tennis court, returfing of the ballfield, an automatic irrigation system, and landscaping along Ellis Street. Work will include landscaping the parking lot behind the school, walkways through the school and park, additional play equipment, tot lot, picnic shelter, drinking fountains, lights throughout the area, benches and beautification at the front of the school.
There has been a lack of neighborhood parks in the Hoover area. This joint city-school project will provide open space and multi-park facilities that should help fulfill park needs and give recreational opportunities to the entire neighborhood.
Lee playground is classified as a small min-park. Residences surround its quarter-block size. The maturing oak grove shelters the playground equipment and drinking fountain. The alley way on the south side of the playground gives children a makeshift hard surface play area. There is no record of the the park was acquired.
The land for Livingston Neighborhood Park was purchased from the State of Oregon in 1969. A HUD Open Space grant paid one-half of the acquisition cost. A tree cover of Alder and Ash trees along the drainage running through the park adds interest to the area. A 15-foot easement provides access from the Turnkey Housing unit on the north and the subdivision on the west. A service drive off 35th Street provides parallel car parking for users who drive to the area to use the multi-use court for tennis and basketball play.
Before development began in the early 70's, the Lansing Community Action Association and the Oregon National Guard brushed out the berry vines and cleaned up the drainage ditch. Actual development began in the spring of 1974 and was completed in the spring of 1976. Development includes a multi-use court, wooden play equipment, automatic irrigation system in the lawn area and a paved pathway through the park built over earth berms which provides interest for joggers, strollers, cyclists and skateboarders.
In 1958, the Public Works Department authorized the use of street right-of-way at the end of Maple Street for a park. The area is seeded to grass and two pieces of play equipment are available for youngsters of the neighborhood.
In July of 1976, Maple Playground was one of five parks scheduled for closure because of the defeat of the City tax levy.
Marion Square was plotted in 1850 by W.H. Willson. Willson Park and Marion Square are the two oldest parks in the City. The mature stand of fir trees, which can be seen from many parts of the downtown area, were about 20 feet tall at the time the square was laid out. The park enjoys a great deal of historical significance. At the turn of the century, a fine residential development surrounded the park and extended along Front Street.
In the late 40's, the construction of the Marion Street Bridge and the growth of Salem changed the character of the area. The appearance of the park was further altered by the 1962 Columbus Day storm when huge fir trees were blown over and others severely damaged.
On warm summer days, tourists, visitors and towns people can be seen picnicking in the park. The Saturday Market was initiated in the summer of 1974, and discontinued in 1975 because of low attendance. The park acts as a vital link of open space between the Willamette River and the north end of the central business district. Future downtown and riverfront renewal plans will eventually restore the prominence and importance of Marion Square.
Mill Race Park is a quiet, passive area located on Mill Stream. A pond, formed by the Boise Cascade dam and fish ladder adds to the interest of the park. In the early 20's, the pond was a popular swimming hole. The entrance to the swim area was located off State Street and a parking area along with bathhouses and concession stand was available to the public. The land was later sold for other development.
The current site on Ferry Street along the south bank of the stream was donated by PGE in 1967. Development includes a walkway along Mill Stream, landscaping, picnic table and bench. It is an attractive and popular stop over for bicyclists and strollers. It is a pleasant place to sit and view this quiet portion of Mill Creek and feed the many ducks that inhabit the area.
In 1970, the City of Salem acquired the 308-acre Minto Island site located 2 1/2 miles from the City center. A Land and Water grant, Willamette Greenway funds, and a donation by the Schindler Brothers left only a small portion of the purchase price to be paid by the City. A year later, Marion County acquired a 525-acre site contiguous to Minto Island that brought the total park area to 833 acres. The site is bounded by the Willamette River on the northwest, Salem Golf Course on the south, River Road on the southeast, and Boise Cascade aeration ponds to the northeast.
In 1857, Isaac "Whiskey" Brown made his way up the Columbia and Willamette Rivers from Astoria and established his home on an island which became known as Brown's Island. Here, the colorful and untidy Brown raised livestock, farm produce and tobacco. Ten years later, John Minto purchased 247 acres on another island which was to be named after him. At that time, the island was covered with dense brush and flood debris, which he subsequently cleared, turning the land into productive farm land.
Today, the islands aren't true islands due to periodic flooding which has changed the channel of the Willamette River. The greatest flood ever recorded occurred in December, 1861. Previous to this flood, the Willamette River flowed between the two islands, so that Minto Island was on the east bank and Brown Island was on the west bank of the river.
After the flood subsided it was discovered that the river had changed its course to the present location. The 1964 flood was almost as great as the one 100 years previous, and many structures were destroyed at this time. Periodic flooding of the Minto-Brown Island area has allowed the site to survive to this day as a low density agricultural area.
Cooperation between Marion County and the City of Salem has resulted in preparation of a Master Development Plan and subsequent application for Land and Water development funds over the past few years. The city and County have recently negotiated a Land Use Permit with the Fish and Wildlife Commission which permits continued farming of the area. The agreement requires that some of the farm crops remain unharvested for waterfowl and wildlife which constitute a recreational use.
The remainder of the site consists of gravel pits, old river bed, sloughs, native timber, dense underbrush and grassy meadows that serve as a natural habitat for birds and wildlife.
There are approximately five miles of paved bikeway and two parking lots for unloading bikes in the park. The trails lead to points of interest along the sloughs with observation platforms available for bird watching. It also passes a paddle boat area and several fishing spots. The City of Salem has constructed a bicycle path along South River Road which ties into the Minto-Brown Island bike trails. Development has been kept low key to preserve this natural area.
Many people now use the site and enjoy the very natural, rural farm setting. the use of the bike trails by bikers, joggers and strollers has been very compatible with the farming interests there. Many clubs use the are extensively such as the Audubon Society, and bicycle clubs and other interests such as equestrian, archery, boating and canoeing will probably be served in the near future.
Morningside Neighborhood Park was purchased and developed in the mid-60's, with the assistance of HUD Open Space funds. The acquisition of park land fulfilled a promise made to the residents of the area that a park would be developed when South Salem was annexed to the City.
There is a good balance of open space and wooded area with a grove of fir trees along the western border of the park. The park is on the corner of Pringle Road and Ewald which provides excellent access to residents, nearby Morningside School and the Day School operated at the Morningside United Methodist Church. Grass has been planted in the 30-foot strip of street right-of-way west of the park. If 13th Street is ever cut through, the size of the park will noticeably decrease.
Morningside was the first City park developed with HUD Open Space funds. Development was accomplished by force account and includes: a ball diamond, multi-use court, horseshoe pits, spray pool and play equipment.
The nucleus for a park in the Northgate area began 14 years ago when Larry Epping, developer of the subdivision donated 2.143 acres of land to Marion County for a park. During the next several years, some development was accomplished by Marion County with budgeted funds, a donation of money from developer Epping, and use of Marion County welfare crews.
In the late 60's, Marion County acquired an additional 1.33 acres of land. This was done even though the park was soon to become a part of the city of Salem Park System. Because of annexation, the deed was transferred to the City in 1970.
An agreement between the City of Salem and the Pioneer Trust Company in 1972, ensured the use of Donna W. Aldrich Trust monies as the local match for a HUD Open Space grant. As a result, the City was able to acquire an additional .56 acres of land, a permanent easement to 34th Street and add needed facilities to the park at no cost to the taxpayers.
The park is composed of a wooded area for picnicking, a turfed area for ball and other running games, multi-use court, imaginative play equipment, asphalt walkways and a fully automatic irrigation system.
The development of Northgate Park is a good example of cooperation between the City and the Neighborhood Association in determining park needs and working together to satisfy those needs. Appreciation of the completed project is evident by the amount of use the park is getting from citizens of all age groups.
The site on which Olinger Pool is now located was purchased by School District 24J in 1921. The land was adjacent to the Salem High School Athletic Field. An "ol swimmin' hole" was developed by volunteers which consisted of damming up a portion of Mill Creek. Each spring the stream was dredged out and made ready for summer use. Bathhouses were erected by the swimming hole and playground equipment installed.
Olinger Pool was constructed in 1933. The City and School District budgeted funds and WPA crews assisted in construction. Tennis courts were also constructed by WPA crews at the same time. In 1958, the pool was completely renovated with the city and School District participating in the cost.
Olinger Park took on a completely different appearance in 1972, when the pool was covered and again completely renovated. A parking lot, landscaping around the building and construction of a pedestrian bridge across Mill Creek added to the attractiveness and accessibility of the area.
The land of Orchard Heights Community Park was purchased from School District 24J in 1960. The park is located near the city limits and is bordered on the north and east by single-family residences, on the south by low-income multiple-family units and on the west by agricultural land. Half of the property is open and relatively flat.
An orchard area on the sloping hillside is leased to a nearby farmer until development of that portion of the park is started. Glen Creek meanders through the central, level portion of the park and maintains a water flow throughout the year. Oak, Alder and Cottonwood trees grow along the banks of the stream.
Design and development was done in cooperation with the Orchard Heights Neighborhood Park Action Committee. Volunteers from the Park Committee, Boy Scouts and members of the LDS Church helped with clean-up of the creek bed, brushing out berry vines and development of a hiking trail. The Soroptimist Club donated money for materials to construct a bridge across Glen Creek tieing the open and forested portions of the park.
Phase I and II development was completed in 1974 and 1975, and includes a mutil-use court, graveled footpaths and landscaping. Dead trees have been removed from along the stream bank and several pieces of play equipment installed. Funds for Phase III and IV development in the current budget include four tennis courts, the park entrance road and parking for 60+ cars. All development to date has been accomplished with matching federal Land and Water funds.
The Master Plan calls for development over a ten-year period of time and will result in a highly developed park, possibly including a community center. Residents from the entire West Salem community will be attracted to Orchard Heights Community Park.
The Pringle Creek Park land was purchased from the Joseph H. Albert estate in 1923, before the existence of the Park and Recreation Department. The site was used as an auto park. Early visitors to the capital city could park their trailer or pitch a tent in Pringle Park. A building located in the center of the park provided kitchen and restroom facilities. In the early 40's, camping was no longer permitted within the city and the building was rented for use as a private kindergarten.
In 1959, the building was destroyed by fire. Insurance money, city budgeted funds and community effort combined to make the present building a reality.
The original land acquired from Albert included property to the north of Shelton Ditch. Over the years, special interests were allowed to purchase two parcels of land north of the ditch and another portion of land south of Pringle Creek was traded away. In additional, permission was given to the hospital to pave a parking lot for the use of both hospital employees and park visitors. This, along with the paving of Oak Street and expansion of hospital facilities to the east, have combined to make the park seem to "shrink in size." Because of strong objections from Salem Park an Recreation Advisory Board members, further encroachments are being resisted.
Pringle Creek, Shelton Ditch and the many large Oak trees make Pringle Park an ideal setting for the building which is used by several thousand Salem area residents each year. The playground equipment and other park facilities are used extensively by visitors to the hospital, and on weekends for family reunions and picnickers. A new morning use of the building is for a preschool movement program sponsored by the Recreation Division. There is a small fee for this popular instruction program.
Richmond Park is a good example of Agency policy to acquire land for development in conjunction with school playgrounds in action. The Richmond Urban Renewal Project required that park and open space land be acquired and developed somewhere within the project area. It seems feasible and logical to add to the small, inadequate playground at Richmond School.
The City of Salem purchased six residential lots east of the school playground and vacated a section of 24th Street to supplement the school land. A HUD Open Space grant reimbursed the city one-half of the acquisition and development cots.
Development includes walks, multi-purpose court, landscaping, lighting, automatic irrigation system, play equipment and a ball field/running area. The park was completed in September, 1974, and approximately 250 residents of the area turned out for the dedication ceremonies. Recreation games, the Mission Street Band and a tree planting ceremony highlighted the dedication program.
The residents of the area thoroughly enjoy Richmond Park and school officials have noted a decrease in vandalism of all types because youngsters and individuals living in the area take pride in "their park." In 1976, Block Grant funds were made available for a pilot recreation program in the SESNA area. A recreation leader was hired and programs for both youth and adults were available to the residents of the Richmond School-Park neighborhood.
River Edge Park is located north of Salem along the Willamette River. The land was purchased in 1968. HUD Open Space and Willamette Greenway dollars supplied three-fourths of the total acquisition costs.
The park has not been developed and remains in its natural state. The river bank is gently sloped at this point and well-worn trails through old growth Cottonwood and dense underbrush show use of this public land.
In 1956, a ball diamond was constructed on Utilities department land at its Sewage Treatment Plant site. The area was fenced, a restroom building constructed and several picnic tables were placed in the area. Ten years later, when the sewage treatment plant was phased out, the Park and Recreation Department was able to purchase part of the holdings along the Willamette River.
The park has approximately a quarter mile of river frontage with cottonwood and Fir trees growing along the bank. The river bank is relatively steep at this point but an old roadway in the northwest corner of the park provides pedestrian access. In the north central part of the park there is a grove of Big Leaf Maple trees. Several pieces of play equipment are located nearby.
In the early 70's, three additional ball fields were constructed, an automatic irrigation system and two tennis courts were installed. A 91-space parking facility provides the much-needed parking for softball players, spectators, tennis players and other park visitors. The parking facility was completed in 1975.
The Urban Renewal Plan for the Central Salem Development Project shows open space land west of the Civic Center that will provide an open vista to the Willamette River. In 1973, the City acquired the first piece of land as part of this proposed "window to the west."
The city purchased three additional lots in 1975. Future use of the lots may be for either park and open space or development by Urban Renewal. The three pieces of land purchased will not be added to the park acreage until use is determined.
The School District owns the lot on which Royal Playground is located. In 1955, the School District gave the City permission to use the area for a park. The Soroptimist Service Club donated money for play equipment which was installed by Park crews.
In July of 1976, Royal Park was one of five small neighborhood parks scheduled for closure because of the defeat of the City tax levy. Citizens of the neighborhood sponsored a "garage" sale to raise money for the park's liability insurance and have organized to perform maintenance tasks to keep the park open.
The City purchased 2.50 acres from the Urban Renewal Agency in 1974, as the future site for the Salem Senior Center. A "Site Selection Committee" representing retired citizens, recommended locating the center in the Hollywood Urban Renewal area and City Council concurred.
Construction of the building began in June, 1975, and dedication ceremonies were held on June 25, 1976. A successful Senior Citizen fund raising effort provided approximately one-third of the acquisition and development costs. The City budgeted the other two-thirds from Revenue Sharing and Community Development Block Grant funds. The cost of the land, building, furnishings and landscaping totaled $1,013,000.
The senior citizens of the community are enthusiastic about the new center. The building can be scheduled for various community activities when not in use by the seniors. It is anticipated demand for this facility will be great from both seniors and others in the community. The Recreation Division has a coordinator who works at the center during the evening hours to develop both senior and community programs.
In 1965, the City purchased 15 acres of land for development of Skyline Park in the South Salem area. This was in line with City policy to acquire and develop park sites in the newly annexed South Salem area. At approximately the same time, School District 24J acquired land adjacent to Skyline Park for a high school. The City acquired an additional 24 acres and the way was paved for the joint planning and development of the Skyline-Sprague School Park site.
In the spring of 1972, an agreement was reached between the City and School District for joint site development. The area is highly developed as a "special use" sports oriented facility. The nine-acre athletic field is an open, grassed area with two baseball fields, each with bleacher capacity for 100 spectators. The field is also used for football, soccer and field hockey at other times of the year. Also available is a 93-space parking facility, entrance road, walkways and landscaping around the area. The Park Division maintains the area on a year-round contractual basis with the School District.
Park land west of the developed area extends down a steep embankment to Croisan Creek with a level area near the creek which at this time is undeveloped.
Since 1957, the City has leased land on State Hospital grounds for a park. Two rows of trees were planted along the north border of the park in the vicinity of the restroom building. These trees are now from 20 to 30 feet tall.
Development includes a softball field, soccer field, restroom, play equipment and a 40-space graveled parking lot. The area was known as Walker Park until 1971. At that time the Salem Soccer Club requested the name be changed to Soccer Field because of confusion in identifying between Walker School in West Salem and Walker Park. The area is level and is heavily used for softball, soccer play and other neighborhood uses.
In 1951, A. A. and Mary Larsen, developers of the South Village Subdivision, donated 1.12 acres of land to the city for a park. The park was outside the city limits at the time of the donation. The residents of the area were instrumental in accomplishing the tasks of early development and maintenance.
Its small size and the fact that the park is located on a steep side slope makes the area unsuitable for extensive development. There are scattered trees and an arborvitae hedge on the east and west edges of the park. Several pieces of play equipment are available for youngsters of the community.
Waldo Park is named for Judge William Waldo who came to Salem in 1843. Waldo was a lawyer and later became a Marion County Judge. He lived on an estate along Mill Creek in what is now the center of Salem. In 1872, a traveling salesman with a bundle of redwood saplings, convinced Waldo and many other Salemites to purchase the miracle trees.
Waldo planted the Sequoia gigantea on the corner of his property, which is now the junction of Union and Summer Streets. As the town of Salem grew, Waldo sold his land with the stipulation that the redwood, to which he had become attached, be preserved.
Finally, in 1936, the American War Mothers, supported by many of Salem's leading citizens, succeeded in having the tree and ground around it dedicated as as city park. Today the 82-foot high tree, whose trunk measures six feet in diameter, stands on a plot 12' by 20', just large enough for the tree, some additional landscaping and a park sign. Summer Street, a main arterial, is squeezed from four lanes to three lanes and then back to four lanes to make room for the tree in its precarious position. Waldo Park has the distinction of being listed as the smallest park in the world.
In 1956, Paul Black Wallace left 24 acres of prime riverfront land known as Wallace Marine Park to the citizens of Salem. Subsequent purchases and gifts have increased the size of the park to 68 acres. As specified in his will, Wallace's two daughters placed a white marble memorial stone at the park entrance in his memory and that of his life-long friend Joseph Albert. Formal dedication of the memorial was made in 1972.
Basic development of the park took place in the late 50's, soon after the Wallace gift. Because of extremely limited funds, early development was not designed or constructed to resist the high waters of the Willamette River. The Christmas flood of 1964 swept away the two boat launching ramps, roadways and picnic facilities that had been developed.
Surplus steel landing mats were installed temporarily. This ramp, though inadequate, was used until new facilities were constructed in 1967. A boat ramp, parking area with landscaped island and restroom building were part of the new development. Marion County and Polk County both participated in the reconstruction of the park facilities by turning over funds from their Marine Facility grants. This was an unusual situation and showed a spirit of cooperation among the three jurisdictions served by the Agency, particularly for Marion County to allocate funds to another county.
In the early 70's, two ball diamonds with backstops and automatic irrigation systems were constructed by park crews. A Land and Water grant assisted in financing the installation of a boat dock in the spring of 1976.
The citizens of Salem can be grateful for the far-sighted action of Paul Wallace who donated land stretching along the banks of the Willamette River through the City of Salem.
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West Salem Neighborhood Park was platted when West Salem was incorporated. The terrain is gently rolling and there is a balance of open space and groves of fir and oak trees. A wading pool, restroom building and play equipment are available for youngsters of the community. An automatic irrigation system, installed in the summer of 1974, keeps the grass green and adds to the attractiveness of the park.
In 1952, the South Salem Chamber of Commerce purchased 6 1/2 acres of land from Dr. and Mrs. A.D. Woodmansee. The Chamber held many fund raising activities to help pay for the land. In 1957, to make the final payment, the Chamber sold 1 1/2 acres of land to the Salem Heights Water District. In 1960, the South Salem Chamber of Commerce was dissolved and the land was deeded to Marion County with the stipulation that the land be developed as a park and it be named Woodmansee.
Marion County developed two graveled parking areas, installed four pieces of play equipment, a drinking fountain, sign, wood chip paths and pit toilets which are still in existence today. Welfare crews were used extensively wherever possible to keep the total development cost low.
In 1964, the area was annexed to the City and Marion County transferred ownership of the land to the City of Salem. The City added a 7.09 acre parcel north of the park in that same year. The following year the City constructed a shelter building. In 1975, Mrs. A.D. Woodmansee donated funds to purchase and install some wooden play equipment which is a fun attraction for the neighborhood youngsters.
Woodmansee is a popular community park area, enhanced by the natural beauty of oak trees, a stream running through the park and the ball fields at the adjacent Judson Junior High School site. The Park and Recreation Technical Study recommends that Woodmansee be expanded to a Community Park by acquiring vacant land south of the park.
Barrick Field is owned by School District 24J. During the summer months, the two 90-foot baseball diamonds are used by Senior Little League, Babe Ruth and American Legion. Park Division crews take care of field maintenance during the summer months. for the remainder of the year, the city is reimbursed for maintenance tasks by School District 24J.
The Salem Civic Center site was acquired in the late 60's. A bond issue approved by the voters made possible the acquisition and construction of a centrally-located library, civic center and fire station. A HUD Open Space grant reimbursed the City one-half of the acquisition costs.
the four-block area is extensively landscaped with native trees, shrubs, grass and water. North of the Civic Center, Pringle Creek adds interest with its reflecting pond and large planter boxes with trees and colorful flowers.
The covered court in the Civic Center Building has fountains, sculptures and is truly a people place. Christmas carols, Christmas tree lighting ceremony, teen dances, civic activities and special recreational events are accommodated in this area. The plaza between the Civic Center and Library includes a fountain, spot lighted trees and art objects. School youngsters and citizens of the Salem area continually tour the Library, Civic Center and surrounding grounds.
This landscaped area was st aside as open space in the Pringle Creek Urban Renewal area. It includes land in front of the Parking Structure, SAIF Building, Elderly High Rise and one-half block between Cottage and Winter Streets. It extends to the west edge of the Willamette campus.
The plaza is extensively landscaped with the Mill Race as its focal point. Concrete paths along the stream lead pedestrians across seven bridges, past water falls, planters and benches. Earth berms and swales add interest and the well-kept lawn and hundreds of shrubs and trees add to the attractiveness of the area.