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Parking on the Oregon Trail:
Springfield's Quartz Park


By Nicole Ankeney, RLA, Willamalane Park and Recreation District; Kyle Cavaness, LASN





Quartz Park in Springfield, Ore., is a 3½-acre public space that doubles as the playground for a new school and serves residents in an expanding southeast section of the city. The park opened in October 2013 and includes play structures with slides, balancing and climbing elements; a basketball court; accessible swings and other amenities. Willamalane Park and Recreation District will manage the park until the school is completed.


The southeast section of Springfield, Ore., is one of the few areas still available for housing development within the city's urban growth boundary. A comprehensive 20-year Park and Recreation plan completed in 2012 by the Willamalane Park and Recreation District identified southeast Springfield as underserved by neighborhood parks. The plan showed that residents were either a half-mile or more from a park or would have had to cross a high-speed parkway to reach a park. Since the area was slated for more housing development, the local school district, Springfield Public Schools, took a proactive approach and participated in the 2010 Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) program, a federal economic stimulus project that allowed the school district to purchase a 15-acre property and complete limited site development through a no-interest federal loan.

The school district joined forces with Willamalane during the master planning process and combined their funding to develop a site for the future school and create a new 3½-acre neighborhood park for the community. The elements of the park, such as the playground, basketball court and play field, will also serve as the school's playground in the future.

 




The neighborhood park features a 7,000-square-foot play area for 5-12-year-olds, more than 1,450 square feet for 2-5-year-olds, and a sandbox with a buried dinosaur fossil. There are also several music panels that allow children to play songs. The park also includes a basketball court, a playfield with a perimeter path, lighting, a small parking lot, stormwater treatment planters and rock outfalls.



The property lies to the south of a residential area and just east of a busy parkway. It was outside of city limits and contained almost 10 acres of jurisdictional wetlands, so mitigation credits were purchased to offset areas where development occurred. Annexation of the site and a zoning change were required by the city, as were standard site review procedures.

The project was not without its share of obstacles. The school district's QSCB funding had to be spent by July 2013, which was difficult because of the wetlands and wet climate conditions typical of springtime in Oregon's Willamette Valley. Challenges also arose while working to meet the goals of two different public agencies. Though only a portion of this site was developed as part of the park project, a master plan for the entire site was necessary to ensure enough space for the layout of the future school, parking and sports fields.

 




Construction costs for the park reached approximately $1.2 million, $400,000 of which came from a Willamalane bond measure approved by voters in November 2012. The remainder was paid for by funds the school district received from a round of federal economic stimulus spending.



Robertson|Sherwood|Architects' Scott Stolarczyk, AIA, led the design team, and Aaron Olsen, ASLA, of Cameron McCarthy Landscape Architecture and Planning, designed the park, except for the playground. Willamalane's project manager and landscape architect Nicole Ankeney sought playground design proposals from five manufacturers that were on Oregon's approved list of playground equipment contractors. Nine designs were submitted, and residents, the school district and Willamalane staff were given an opportunity to weigh in on the decision. Buell Recreation was ultimately selected to provide play equipment manufactured by BCI Burke.

Quartz Park includes full-court basketball, a playfield with a perimeter path, lighting, a small parking lot and stormwater treatment planters and rock outfalls. The local children now enjoy a much larger playground than would have been possible without a plan to meet the needs of a future school. The neighborhood park features separate play areas for ages 5-12 (7,000 square feet) and 2-5 (more than 1,450 square feet), plus a sandbox with a buried dinosaur fossil. There are also several music panels that allow children to play songs.

 




The play surface consists of recycled rubber tiles provided by Buell Recreation and manufactured by RB Rubber Products. Rubber tiles were first installed in Willamalane parks about 15 years ago, but the areas were limited in size and only used at access points for play equipment. In contrast, the design team was able to specify more than 8,450 square feet of safety surfacing across both play areas at Quartz Park.



The construction timeline was very tight due to the QSCB's funding constraints. The majority of the construction, including grading, utilities, parking lot installation, concrete and most of the landscaping had to be completed by early July, the deadline for spending 100 percent of the QSCB funds. Features like the playground, which was funded by Willamalane, did not have these time constraints and were added later in the process. The construction phase lasted from March to October 2013, and a grand opening event brought residents out to Quartz Park for the first time on October 15, 2013.

 







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December 11, 2018, 10:09 pm PST

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