A tree in Minto-Brown Island Park. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

Salem is expanding its parks system after two land purchases in recent years, one in south Salem and another in northeast Salem, that total more than 60 acres.

Patricia Farrell, parks and natural resources planning manager, said a piece of property on Hazelgreen Road in northeast Salem became available through a family trust.

The city bases its parks purchases on its Comprehensive Park System Master Plan and weighs things like future space availability as development expands into the city’s urban growth boundary.

“If we don’t acquire property now, we’re not going to have any other opportunity to,” Farrell said.

Mayor Chuck Bennett highlighted the two parks purchases at his most recent State of the City address last month.

The Hazelgreen property needs to be annexed because it’s within the urban growth boundary, but outside city limits.

Farrell said the 45-acre property, purchased for $2.9 million in 2018, is currently a flat field the city is leasing to a grass seed farmer.

The topography makes it easier to develop a park in the future and creates the potential for sports fields.

Farrell said there’s a lot of development going on in northeast Salem and the park will likely be a mix between a neighborhood park with a playground and trails that also has a regional draw from a sports complex that’s close to the interstate.

But those plans are years away. Farrell said the city won’t do master plans for the Hazelgreen property until 2024. Funding is the main hurdle to getting parks projects started and there are several around town that are in a queue to be developed.

The city is working on a master plan for Eagle’s View Park in west Salem and starting a second phase of development at Geer Park in southeast Salem. The Salem City Council will hear plans on Battle Creek Park in south Salem at its March 23 meeting.

There’s also a future south Salem park in the works.

Last year, the city bought 17 acres on Rees Hill Road for $1.45 million after looking for a property to extend Lone Oak Road in south Salem.

Some of the acreage will be taken up by the road extension and the rest will become a community park.

Farrell said the city will use systems development charges to fund the master plan for both parks and then start looking for funding to implement those plans.

Naming won’t start until after the planning process, and then goes through the Salem Parks and Recreation Advisory. For now, the two properties are going by their street names. 

Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] or @daisysaphara.