As I posted last week, tomorrow night Metro and Tigard will be hosting a “Community Open House” designed to help them further develop land-use plans for the Fields Property – Tigard Library, 5:30 to 7:30 PM. If you live anywhere in the Fanno Creek watershed (and in the Tualatin Basin for that matter), I urge you to attend this meeting and let the planners know how, and to what extent, you believe that property should be developed. If you can’t make the meeting, there’s an online survey here you can take that includes a general overview of the three planning concepts that will be presented.
These days, when I think of this property it’s always within the context of its location near the top of the last four miles of Fanno Creek’s 14 mile run.* Below, in the very rough approximation of the creek’s floodplain between the bridge on Main Street and its confluence with the Tualatin River, the creek flows through several parks and dozens of private properties. I sometimes refer to the area as the “Gut,” but maybe a better name, given the positive potential they represent would be “String of Pearls.”
Most of those properties are industrial/commercial in nature and many of them include large portions of undeveloped land that lie deep into the floodplain. Together with the areas already designated as parkland, these relatively undisturbed portions of the floodplain cover around 2% of the creek’s total watershed. More significantly, they comprise .6 square miles or almost half of its total floodplain.
When I look at this string of pearls, the first thing I see is the great potential for the development of a large, multi-purpose, semi-self-sufficient, natural stormwater processing machine. If the development of the Fields Property to include amenities such as soccer fields and baseball diamonds can be avoided, or at least substantially curtailed, there is a great opportunity to enhance the area’s already positive contribution to Fanno Creek’s water quality. What’s good for Fanno Creek is good for the Tualatin River. Hence my insistence that the fate of this property is of significance to every person in the Basin.
As rate-payers, we need to do all we can to insure that the cost of meeting stormwater quality criteria, now and in the future, is kept as low as possible. One of the keys to meeting that goal is to insure that our remaining natural infrastructure is kept intact as much as possible.
I’ve walked the Fields Property multiple times, most recently just two days ago. The open areas that would figure significantly in the development of sports fields are so heavily sloped towards the creek that I suspect a great deal of cutting and filling would need to take place before they would be serviceable. Furthermore, the drainage through the eastern portion of the property is fairly marked, to the extent that the lower areas were very soggy, even ‘though it had been several days since the last significant rainfall. A better use for this area would be to convert it into a prairie, with an emphasis in its planting towards creating habitat for pollinators and field birds.
If enough people give their input to the planners, regardless of what that input may be, I’m reasonably confident that a well balanced plan will ultimately emerge from the process. See you there?
*the beeline distance between downtown Tigard is 2.8 miles, but the stream meanders a total of approximately 4.8 miles to cover that distance.