Just north of Forest Park in northwest Portland lies 1,300 undeveloped acres spread across four separate properties. The land, which was historically a logging area and can be currently accessed from either Skyline or McNamee roads, is owned by Metro and is known as the North Tualatin Mountains natural area.
Metro is embarking on a planning process to figure out what to do on the land and there’s a great opportunity to include bicycle access in the equation. Advocates have been fighting for years to improve bike access in Forest Park but have made frustratingly slow progress.
The Tualatin Mountains natural area offers a fresh start and a new political context since it’s under Metro jurisdiction and not managed by the City of Portland (the current Parks Commissioner, Amanda Fritz, has all but shelved the Forest Park debate calling for “a citywide Master Plan for cycling recreation… prior to embarking on individual projects.”).
“We’re asking two questions: What’s important to people about these properties and what would you like to do here?”
— Dave Elkin, Metro senior park planner
The planning process for the North Tualatin Mountains is just getting underway. Dave Elkin, senior park planner at Metro, told us during an interview yesterday that an advisory committee set up to determine its future has met only once (in July).
“We’re just beginning our comprehensive planning process and we’re asking two questions: What’s important to people about these properties and what would you like to do here?”
Elkin said it’s obvious to him there’s potential for excellent connections to the existing Wildwood Trail in Forest Park. “There are also opportunities for mountain biking, bird watching… The intent for us is to open up the conversation and listen to the public and see what the consensus is.”
The Northwest Trail Alliance, a local non-profit that works to help maintain trails and improve off-road cycling access, has already had discussions with Metro about this project and their advocacy director, Jon Pheanis, sits on the advisory committee. (We’ve contacted the NWTA for comment and will update this story when we hear back.)
In the end, Elkin says the conversation around how this land is developed will be familiar to bike advocates. “How do we balance natural resource protection with these recreational opportunities, and where can both intersect and create a dynamic space.”
Tonight’s meeting (6:00 pm at Skyline Grange Hall – 11275 NW Skyline Blvd) is the first of four planned open houses. Metro hopes to have a comprehensive plan completed by Spring 2015.