Gales Creek – A spokesperson for Washington County says that Rippling Waters Nature Trail will not be opened until a public engagement process has been developed.
“Right now, we’re committed to being better neighbors,” said Julie McCloud, Public Affairs & Communications Coordinator for Washington County in a phone conversation with the Gales Creek Journal.
According to McCloud, statements by Parks Superintendent Carl Switzer regarding the opening of the park before this summer weren’t necessarily accurate.
“We just want to reign that in – those are very aspirational,” McCloud said of the timelines given by Switzer, who was hired as the parks superintendent in the summer of 2016.
Currently, work is being done on the county-owned property to maintain the trails, improve the parking lot, which had become overgrown with brush and trees, and improve the existing signage at the 19-acre natural area. This work was spurred in part by Switzer noticing that the property had not been maintained in decades by the county, who then took advantage of favorable weather and the availability of work crews from the Washington County Jail to begin clearing brush and repairing the existing parking lot.
The site now known as Rippling Waters Park or Nature Trail was purchased for $10 on April 21, 1921 by the county as parkland – and never fully opened as a park until nearly 60 years later on May 20, 1980, when the Washington County Board of Commissioners approved a plan by a local chapter of the Izaak Walton League, a nationwide outdoor conservation group, to build a trail and parking lot on the site.
Shortly after the park was completed, the local Izaak Walton League chapter became defunct, and the park closed and was left unmaintained. According to the county, other nonprofit or volunteer organizations have expressed interest in reopening the park, but none resulted in any sustained park operation.
The most recent effort to reopen the park was in 1990, and never moved past the planning phase.
A long-term master plan to address management of Rippling Waters Nature Trail is being developed, and will be brought before the Washington County Board of Commissioners, should the county move to reopen the park.
“If the County does move toward reopening in the future, we will be sure to engage Gales Creek community and get their input beforehand,” said McCloud.
Sources and more information:
Phone and email conversations with Julie McCloud, Public Affairs & Communications Coordinator for Washington County
July 13, 2016 media release regarding Carl Switzer being hired as parks superintendent.