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Jeff Lamb

The City of Philomath is currently planning to use Marys River Park for the new water treatment plant construction, not the previously dedicated public location behind Philomath Community Services and E.D. Hughes.

Not only is this a total disregard of the “founders documents” and existing covenant that established Marys River Park, but it is a violation of trust for the citizens of Philomath. This plan needs to be stopped immediately.

As a principal founder and purchaser of the property as president of Philomath 2000 Project, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, its membership and the numerous citizens with their time, energy and money supporting two massive fundraisers at Dr. Rollie & Joan Bowers Morgan Manner to help fund the purchase this should not be allowed to happen.

Not only did the community make this possible but they also built bridges, walking trails, planted numerous rhododendrons and different species of trees, they did ongoing maintenance and established this priceless jewel of Marys River.

Context of history: In 1987, the Betty Olson Homestead Property (28 acres) was purchased by the Philomath 2000 board of directors with a clear commitment by all parties (including the city of Philomath) involved to leave it in its natural environmental state undeveloped for our future generations to enjoy. This agreement with Betty Olson is once again in jeopardy.

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed in this guest viewpoint are those of the author alone, writing in their individual capacities only, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of the Philomath News. The Philomath News is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the author or reader responses.

Philomath 2000 deeded the 28 acres to the city of Philomath with the collective community vision of creating a new city civic center. It was named Marys River Park. Four acres facing Applegate Street between 11th and 10th was later purchased by the city and designated to accommodate a library, community center, city hall and police station.

Noted architect Gary Moye from Eugene worked with the various principal parties to produce the new civic center master plan in 1989 that should still be on file with the city. Philomath 2000 was the driving force with its coalition of community partners to create the concept of a new city civic center. The city acknowledged and confirmed the plan moving ahead with it when they purchased the four acres on Applegate Street.

Testimony was submitted to the mayor and council on Sept. 21, 2021 concerning the violation of the “Founders Statement & Covenant” that the park is not to be developed. It appears someone in city management removed the founders documentation from the city’s Park Master Plan when the plan was updated in 2016. As of this writing, the city has not replied to the concerns raised in the Sept. 21 correspondence.

If the city is allowed to use Marys River Park to build new infrastructure to accommodate more growth and development it will be yet another broken promise by the city. Also of note, the new treatment plant shows a 1-1/2 million-gallon storage tank on site. As ODOT plans on doing a major upgrade on the couplet the city plans on a large drainage swale pond to hold the runoff and contaminants from the road construction project. The numerous environmentally sensitive vegetation will disappear.

How ironic that the city plans on holding a parks committee public open house on Wednesday (Nov. 10) while the public doesn’t even know what’s going on behind their back!

To review the current facility plans and costs, visit the city’s website. Go to current plans and process. 

Our natural environment is disappearing faster than ever. Let’s not lose this beautiful environmental treasure forever!

Definition of covenant by Merriam-Webster: A formal and serious agreement or promise.

Philomath citizens need to take action now! The City Council next meets Monday, Nov. 8.

Contact the mayor and City Council at the city of Philomath Website ASAP! Tell them: “Don’t take our park.”

Jeff Lamb is a longtime community civic activist and business owner; past president of the Philomath 2000 Project; charter and founding president of the Philomath Community Foundation; fundraising chairman for the Philomath Library project; and past president and fundraising chairman for the Philomath Community Services capital campaign.