A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Hazelwood Park: What about the trees?

Written April 8th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

Even in spring, before the oaks have leafed out, the first thing you notice in Albany’s Hazelwood Park is the dense stand of mature oaks and Douglas firs. The city council may declare the property surplus, and one question will be what happens to the trees.

I visited the little park off S.W. Queen Avenue on Tuesday and recorded this two-minute video while I was there:

The parks master plan the city council adopted in February calls for Hazelwood Park to be sold or transferred.

An Albany nonprofit, Creating Housing Coalition, whose president was appointed to a council vacancy in January, has asked to negotiate to acquire the 2.6-acre property in order to build a cluster of about 25 tiny houses there.

The group also seeks to obtain a $100,000 grant from Albany’s federal community development funds to acquire property for its “Hub City Village.”

Gary Goby, representing the coalition, told the Albany Community Development Commission on Monday the group had evaluated three potential sites: on Waverly Drive, on Grand Prairie Road, and Hazelwood Park.

They’ve raised $300,000 in grants and private donations, expect it will take four to six months to gain control of a site, and then hope to start construction within one or two years of securing the property.

Goby, a retired physician who was instrumental in getting the Albany Carousel completed, posted his phone number at Hazelwood asking park users, especially dog walkers, for their input. When I called, he told me that trees in the center would be taken out to make room for the tiny houses but an outside ring of trees would be maintained.

And people would continue to be welcome to walk their dogs there.

Houses along S.W. 17th Avenue back up to Hazelwood Park. One of the residents told the council last month she and her husband had bought their place confident that a city park could never be developed. She said the neighbors would have appreciated being notified about plans to get rid of the park.

If and when the council decides to divest itself of Hazelwood Park, a public hearing will be required. The land is zoned for single-family residential use with an average minimum lot size of 6,500 square feet. How that squares with the tiny houses of Hub City Village, the city’s land use process would have to decide. (hh)

The trees of Hazelwood Park on Tuesday, April 6.

7 responses to “Hazelwood Park: What about the trees?”

  1. Don says:

    They are mature trees and are nearing the end of life for them. We have lots of acres of similar trees. Mostly grown since the area was settled.

  2. James Engel says:

    So “we” cut down o2 giving trees for a bunch of funky, trashy, smelly homeless. Makes sense for the liberal socialist left. Move them out to the R/R yard where they belong. A park is for law abiding people.

  3. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Trees are your biggest concern? Here are a few other concerns that pop up:

    What will such a village look like in five or 10 years when the structures have aged?

    Will the village allow residents to use alcohol and drugs?

    What is the contingency plan if this site does not work?

    What role will tiny homes play within the City’s effort to end homelessness?

    Clearly taxpayer money and land is being requested. Is this tiny home development the best use of that money and land?

    I can think of about a hundred more, but I’ll stop here.

    • James Cahill says:

      Good points. Let me add that we are trading a quiet park for 25-50 troubled souls and their problems. This place is sandwiched between 2 large electrical substations. What are the health risks for a population that is not healthy to begin with – and who would they sue? Is the soil safe?

  4. HowlingCicada says:

    I have a question that I bet is not on Gordon’s “hundred more.”

    “””One of the residents told the council last month she and her husband had bought their place confident that a city park could never be developed.”””

    How did she gain that confidence? Did a real estate “professional” — who should have known better — overlook that possibility, or even insinuate that the park was permanent? See quote below.

    I’m not making an accusation, just asking a question. I suspect that much NIMBYism may be due to an implied permanence of neighboring vacant land or parks when buying a house close to such amenities. One needs to ask where those implications come from.

    Here’s a quote from

    “””In 2006, a master plan for Albany parks recommended that the city “explore divestment of Hazelwood Park if another, more centrally located site can be acquired to serve Neighborhood No. 16.”

    “We have not found a buyer, so the idea died on the vine,” Director of Parks and Recreation Ed Hodney told me when I asked. “I’ll reassess our options with the new park system master plan update over the next several months.” “””

  5. David Cross says:

    Hmm, does money grow on trees?
    The NAHB (National Association of Homebuilders) claim lumber prices have soared
    180% since last spring. I imagine the nonprofit group “Creating Housing Coalition” (whose president happens to be an Albany City Council member) would indeed sharpen their pencils to cut a deal with the City of Albany for purchase, or possibly receive as a transfer, Hazelwood Park. As HH writes, “They’ve raised $300,000 in grants and private donations”, and “seeks to obtain a $100,000 grant from Albany’s federal community development funds” with expectations of gaining control of the site for its Hub City Village housing development.
    Perhaps these private donors posses the vision to see the forest from the trees.

  6. James Cahill says:

    Why a park anyway? Why not buy some distressed property closer to the city center and all the services poor people soak up? The park is not a nuisance. It is one of the few parks that the homeless have not taken over – so why “sell” it to them in some secret, backdoor deal? Where are the tree people in all this? Gary claims only a few trees in the center will be cut. Uh, no. Visit that park. The north half is slated for huts, the middle for a soup kitchen and the SE corner for a parking lot. Many of those trees are very large. You can’t pack huts amid the tall trees. First there is not room and second it is not safe.
    Let Gary find a park in his own back yard to install 25 homeless huts.


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