If the city follows residents’ wishes, Highland Park may soon receive playground equipment and other amenities.

A dozen residents of northeast Hermiston joined Parks and Recreation Committee members and Director Ivan Anderholm at the Hermiston Conference Center on Tuesday evening for a presentation and discussion event.

Anderholm said this fall’s community satisfaction survey results included a disproportionate number of responses about the Highland Park area.

He explained to residents that the city has been weighing options, talking to a developer and trying to raise funds for the project since about 1997.

The park became official city park land in 2005, yet it sits five years later as little more than undeveloped open space.

During the meeting, Anderholm detailed possibilities for the site and asked residents to create “must have” and “would be nice” lists.

After forming two groups and discussing options for restrooms, drinking fountains, fences, seating, signs and more, a consensus developed around a few items.

Residents expressed desires for a neighborhood-type playground with both physically and mentally stimulating equipment, open space for recreation and functional seating.

The two groups also shared a distaste for large picnic areas and an interest in light installations, but they disagreed over the need for restrooms, water features and fencing.

All amenities are subject to budget constraints, Anderholm said, adding that the city failed to secure grants after applying in 2008 and this year.

For five years, about 9 percent of the city’s hotel tax has been dedicated to the Parks and Rec department, Anderholm said.

He said the city will use some of that money — along with System Development Charges, which are fees the city adds to new homes in Hermiston — to pay for changes coming to Highland Park.

Committee members and Anderholm invited everyone in Hermiston to attend the next Parks and Recreation Board Meeting, scheduled for Jan. 13, or contact the parks department at 541-567-5521.

A Highland Park conceptual from 2008 is available as a downloadable document on the city’s website: www.hermiston.or.us.

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