Albany's East Thornton Lake Natural Area may not get developed for at least a couple more years, but the city parks department has not forgotten about it. I learned this when I asked Parks and Recreation Director Ed Hodney to respond to what a reader wanted to know.
"Any word on how the park in North Albany is going?" Rachel LaBrasseur had asked. "Looking forward to having easier access to the lake."
The city of Albany bought the 27 acres of former farmland on the south side of East Thornton Lake in 2009 for $2.25 million. The purchase ended a land-use fight between developer Byron Hendricks of Salem, who wanted to subdivide the acreage for housing, and neighbors who opposed him.
This past winter, students in the University of Oregon's Sustainable Cities Year program designed a variety of concepts of how the property could be developed as a park.
Hodney told me the parks department plans to hire a consultant around December or January to design the park improvements. "The work performed by classes from the UO this past year will inform the design process" he wrote in an email. "Neighbors and other interested folks will be involved in the design."
Then, construction of whatever is designed will be scheduled in the 2019-20 budget year. But this depends, Hodney hastened to add, on the success of any requests for grants and donations. It also depends on budget decisions by the city council.
Meanwhile, as Hodney told me the last time I asked, people are free to wander around the acreage even though there are no established paths. There also is no place to park. For some reason, the one little patch of pavement off North Albany Road near the acreage has been posted "no parking."