Invasive plant removal, play equipment coming to Salem parks with annual grant

Salem parks will see more benches, new activities and fewer invasive plants with $54,000 in grants this year.

A dozen parks have been awarded money by the Salem Parks Improvement Fund, a record number for the program since its 2006 launch.

The program awards up to $60,000 each year from the city’s general fund toward projects recommended by neighborhood associations. Winners are selected by a committee that includes members of the Salem Parks and Recreation Board, Salem Parks Foundation and Salem Parks Planning and Operation.

The neighborhoods provide matches either through money or in-kind donations, like volunteer labor. Some use additional money that the Salem Parks Foundation reserved for the neighborhood’s project, according to city spokeswoman Kathy Ursprung. 

This year’s largest award is going to Fairmount Park, which is getting $8,500 to remove invasive plant species. It will also pay for a new Mutt Mitt dispenser for dog waste bags to replace one that collapsed after its post rotted.

Invasive English ivy is damaging the coniferous trees at the park, and blackberries cover its west hillside, said Evan West, vice president of the South Central Association of Neighbors.

“It obstructs the pathways, it’s difficult to walk through when the blackberry is overgrown,” he said. “And ivy kind of creeps across pathways, and it’s very surprisingly strong. You can trip over it easily.”

West said that the overgrown blackberries are also a severe fire hazard, and could enable a wildfire starting in the Minto Brown Island area to spread east into the neighborhood. 

The neighborhood association worked with the city’s parks department and the city’s urban forester to identify how much work was needed. Removing the plants will be very labor-intensive, he said.

“The thing that’s wonderful about SCAN is that we have a lot of great volunteers who show up when we put out the call. So I expect that at some point in the coming spring, there’ll be some work days to get some of that accomplished,” he said.

Here are the other parks getting awards this year, with amounts provided by Ursprung: 

Richmond Park, Southeast Salem Neighborhood Association: $7,500 for multi-generational fitness equipment. The project also got $5,000 from the Salem Parks Foundation last year. 

Englewood Park, Northeast Neighbors: $3,500 to remove invasive plants and install a pollinator garden.

McRae Park, Northeast Neighbors: $3,500 for new soccer goals. The project also has $175 in parks foundation funds, toward a total estimated cost of $7,000.

Sunnyslope Park, Sunnyslope Neighborhood Association: $5,500 to stripe a pickleball court and add a GaGa Pit, a corralled area for a game similar to dodgeball. The estimated cost can be met with an additional $400 from the parks foundation.

Secor Park, Sunnyslope Neighborhood Association: $1,500 for a GaGa Pit, which has an estimated project cost of $1,250. The project also has $200 in parks foundation money for potential cost overruns.

Lansing Park, North Lancaster Neighborhood Association: $5,000 for sports benches and picnic tables. The estimated project cost can be met using an additional $6,000 in arks foundation money.

Pringle Pathway to Riverfront, Central Area Neighborhood Development Organization: $3,500 to install a bench. 

Fairview Park, Morningside Neighborhood Association: $3,500 to install an information kiosk. 

Edgewater Parkway, West Salem Neighborhood Association: $5,500 for a park sign, garbage receptacles and an information kiosk.

Nelson Park, Southwest Association of Neighbors: $3,500 for an information kiosk.

Northgate Park, Northgate Neighborhood Association: $3,000 to add art to a fence. 

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-575-1251.

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.