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The Parks Department hopes a new school to be built on Dollar Street will help alleviate the problem with parking at Fields Bridge

PMG PHOTO: HOLLY BARTHOLOMEW - Though Fields Bridge Park now has two parking lots, they often aren't enough to accomodate all the cars at baseball games. Baseball season is the best time of year for many players and fans, but for residents in the Willamette area, the West Linn Parks and Recreation Department and West Linn Police Department, it can bring a few headaches.

Parking during baseball games at Fields Bridge Park has been an issue for at least a decade, according to Parks Department Assistant Director Ken Warner.

"It's been occurring ever since they started playing baseball at Fields Bridge, so they're not necessarily new concerns," Warner said.

With the Fields Bridge parking spaces filling up quickly during games, many cars park along the shoulder of Willamette Falls Drive in front of the park, which greatly worries Transportation Advisory Board Chair Andrew Mallory. The fields also share parking with a hiking trailhead and a nearby community garden.

"I strongly agree that the amount of traffic that's building up along the edge of that road during those busy weekends is becoming very dangerous," Mallory said. "Even at the speed limit, which I think is 25 at that point, you have kids getting in and out of cars. It's an accident waiting to happen."

But so long as cars are parked on the shoulder side of the white line, parking on Willamette Falls Drive is legal.

"The public right-of-way extends well off the roadway and if vehicles are not on or over the fog line, they may be legally parked. If they are legally parked, we as a law enforcement agency cannot cite or tow," West Linn Police Chief Terry Kruger wrote in an email to the Willamette Neighborhood Association inJune.

According to Warner, the baseball teams that use the park have tried to spread out game times as much as possible to alleviate some of the congestion that occurs when people arrive for the start of games while others are still leaving, but there is often not enough parking to accommodate everyone.

Until the parking issue can be solved permanently at Fields Bridge Park, Mallory suggested creating a shuttle service to and from the park during busy game days.

"Maybe having all the cars parked at the Albertsons lot and a shuttle van service to take people back and forth; that could be done immediately," Mallory said. "(But) It would require an awful lot of support."

Warner said shuttle services have been considered in the past and not been implemented due to a lack of interest.

"We've had those conversations (about shuttles) for years. The question becomes, 'Where do you shuttle them from?' The City doesn't have a city parking lot. And unfortunately, in the event world, people don't like to ride shuttle buses," he said. "There are some people that will, but in my experience, unless a shuttle bus is absolutely mandatory, the only way to get to a venue, people are going to choose to drive and park as close as they can."

Warner also noted that this issue goes beyond baseball. Traffic unrelated to baseball has worsened on Borland Road and Willamette Drive in recent years, exacerbating the safety problem of parking on the road.

"There's a lot of traffic issues down there that people complain about and I think sometimes the baseball tournaments get roped into causing all these traffic congestion problems, when — if we really look at it — people are getting off I-205, they're trying to circumvent traffic and the City put in a stop sign down the road. I think those issues are brought into the baseball issues," Warner said.

Parsing out baseball from some of the other issues on the busy road may lead to some improvement, but Warner hopes that the new Athey Creek Middle School, which will be built across the street from Fields Bridge between Dollar Street and Willamette Falls Drive, will alleviate the parking issues, and at least eliminate the need for people to park on the street. The thought here is that overflow parking from the park could use the school parking.

No funding or timeline for the new school has been identified yet.


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