July 14, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Scobert Gardens Park meeting moved to July 23

3 min read
The city's latest design for Scobert Gardens Park emphasizes safety, but an online petition asks the city to take direction from its own climate action plan and increase the tree canopy instead.

from Eugene Parks and Open Space, and staff reports

Due to expected high temperatures, the renovation meeting at Scobert Gardens Park originally scheduled for Tuesday, July 9 has been postponed for two weeks.

Community members are now being invited to walk and talk with Emily Proudfoot, the renovation project manager, on Tuesday, July 23 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the park, 1180 W. 4th St.

Following months of neighborhood conversations, public meetings, park tours and more, the planning team released a new renovation design for Scobert, a “green jewel in the heart of Whiteaker.”

The latest release emphasizes the design goal of making the park safe and welcoming. The design includes a paved walkway, new playground, small performance stage, expanded lawn, new site furniture, preservation of existing trees, and introduction of a new fence and welcoming gated entries along the front of the park.

The amount of new concrete concerned many residents, who are now reminding the city that neighborhood residents asked for more trees, not more concrete.

“The proposed design adds a tremendous amount of concrete in the form of a large plaza despite the city’s recent survey results showing that residents (a very small group) favored greenspace and trees,” said Sue Dockstader.

“The city offered only two choices – both with a large concrete plaza despite a grassroots design that an ad hoc meeting of neighbors generated – which it ignored,” Sue said. “This will worsen the urban heat island effect in Whiteaker and most certainly kill the three struggling street trees in front of Scobert.”

An online petition asks the city to change the design to honor its own climate goals. The city’s Climate Action Plan (R12) and the Urban Forestry website say Eugene will increase tree canopy in “the highest priority and hottest areas, based on a variety of health index and socio-economic factors.”

The petition points out that given the community’s “tree equity” score – a combination of building density, surface temperature, neighborhood income and employment, race, age and health factors – Whiteaker should receive priority from the city for increasing tree canopy.

Yet the latest design for Scobert Gardens Park “does not add a single tree,” the petition notes, even though the city’s map shows “that at least eight historic apple, cherry, big leaf maple, and other trees in the park have died without being replaced.”

Sue Dockstader measured surface temperatures in Scobert Gardens Park July 8 at 4 p.m. With the air temperature about 103 F, an infrared thermometer measured the playground surface and concrete sidewalk at 170 degrees; unshaded grass was 120, and grass shaded by a street tree was 95.  At 3 a.m., the unshaded concrete still measured 88 degrees.

The online petition also renews questions about public access to ‘the dogleg’ and opposes the proposed fencing and gates at the front of the park. As of Tuesday morning, 281 people had already signed.

At the open house July 23, community members can take a self-guided tour through the layout of the new design, then visit with the project staff, ask questions, and discuss the design choices. Food and beverages will be provided. All ages are welcome.

Initially established with a Community Development Block Grant, Scobert Gardens Park was brought to life through the dedication of numerous volunteers who contributed their labor and energy. Notably, the park serves as the venue for the Sunday Whiteaker Community Market, operating from May to October.

The design process will continue through 2024 with construction expected in 2026. Funding for this project comes from park system development charges.

A project FAQ and online survey are available at engage.eugene-or.gov/scobert.

UPDATE (July 9, 2024, 11 a.m.): Sue Dockstader shared an update to the online petition,

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