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home : current news : current news April 29, 2016

4/8/2014 12:13:00 PM
City ponders East Portal improvements
By Sue Stafford

Interested citizens discussed possible improvements to the East Portal at a City Parks Advisory Board workshop April 3.

The workshop began with a field trip to the East Portal, located on the triangle of land bounded by Hood Avenue, Highway 242 and Highway 20/126. The 6.6 acres, owned by the U.S. Forest Service, contains public restrooms (closed in the winter), parking for nine cars, a covered shelter that houses a graphic about Highway 242 (a scenic byway), and the labyrinth constructed by Sisters Cohort 3 of the Ford Family Foundation leadership program.

The area is called the East Portal, even though it is located at the west end of Sisters, because it is at the east end of the McKenzie Pass highway (242). Although owned by the Forest Service, up until 2005 the City of Sisters had a contract to maintain the restrooms and has continued to do so after the contract expired.

Purchasing the land from the government could take years, including Congressional approval. Because the property is the western entrance into Sisters, the City would like to apply to the Forest Service for a permit to make upgrades.

The Parks Advisory Board visited the property with City Manager Andrew Gorayeb to look over and discuss the proposed improvements, which could include: Increased parking; landscaped picnic areas; a kiosk containing information on Sisters history, a business directory, event calendar, and recreational opportunities in Sisters Country; dark sky lighting; paved paths; and possibly a dog park. Increased signage on Highway 242 and Highway 20 would make the quasi-rest-stop more visible to the public. A possible name change could reduce confusion for the public.

The permitting process would require an environmental impact assessment that could cost the City between $12,000 and $15,000. If approved, the City would then pay an annual fee to the Forest Service for the permit. The estimated cost of upgrades could be $100,000 to $150,000.

The Parks Advisory Board will review the proposed upgrades and concept drawing and make recommendations to the City council. The next public meeting of the board, at which citizens can weigh in on the proposal, is not scheduled but will likely be held the first week of May. Check The Nugget for an announcement of the meeting or call City Hall at 541-549-6022.

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