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Willamalane reopens most of its parks after ice storm cleanup

A worker cleans up storm debris at Meadow Park in Springfield
A worker cleans up storm debris at Meadow Park in Springfield

After more than two weeks, Willamalane is reopening a majority of its parks in Springfield.

The park system has been closed to the public since the ice storms last month downed trees and power lines across much of the city.

Eric Adams is the Planning Parks and Recreation Director for Willamalane. He said each of their 45 facilities sustained some amount of damage, especially those in east Springfield.

“We’ve had significant ice storms in the past,” Adams said. “I think, most notably, a storm in 2016 that had a fairly significant effect across all, if not the majority of the parks. But, I think this storm far and away exceeded the amount of damage that we experienced in 2016.”

Adams still urges caution as much debris remains. By Saturday, Feb. 3, a total of 30 parks in the district will be open.

Some parks remain closed in Springfield

The rest are still off limits, including Thurston Hills Natural Area, which Adams said is closed for the foreseeable future.

Adams said they still don’t know the cost of the cleanup and repairs from the ice storm. But he said they’ve had staff, volunteers and contractors working to get the parks reopened.

“Our park maintenance staff have been working essentially full time in doing storm cleanup for the last two weeks,” Adams said. “We still have quite a ways to go– several weeks yet remaining until all the storm debris is cleaned up. We’ll still be working on that, I imagine, through the end of February.”

Willamalane was able to reopen 11 of its parks last week. On Saturday, Splash! At Lively Park will be open again for visitors and events. There’s a list of what’s open and what’s still closed at the Willamalane website.

“One park that we know is near and dear to most people is Thurston Hills Natural Area,” Adams said. “Unfortunately, it sustained very significant damage and the trail system there will remain closed for the foreseeable future. We do not have a projected timetable for that.”

Eugene City Parks

City of Eugene parks and trails are open. However, not all tree hazards have been removed, so the city is asking park users to be extra aware of their surroundings and what’s above them at all times. The city said crews will complete debris cleanup in parks as soon as possible, but it's likely to take months for all areas to be addressed.

The parking lot at the main Spencer Butte trailhead on South Willamette Street is closed, but there are lots open at the Fox Hollow entrance as well as the 52nd Avenue and Willamette Street entrance. The city said park visitors may not park on the sides of South Willamette due to safety concerns; there are “no parking” signs posted as reminders. There is no timeline for when the City will be able to reopen the lot.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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