The Albany Parks and Recreation Commission wants to free up more land in the city’s south end for more community green space.
With more residential construction under consideration for South Albany, the commission wants a nod from the city council to annex 26.61 acres off Lochner Road and Ellingson Road, according to staff reports.
Originally designed as a football field complex, the property has remained in the hands of Linn County since the plan fell through due to city budget constraints some 15 years ago.
The South Albany property is adjacent to a 226-lot subdivision added to the city in 2005, Henshaw Farms, west of Columbus Street and north of Ellingson Road.
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Members of the Parks and Recreation Commission agreed on Wednesday, April 6 that now is the time to bring the property within the city limits.
Albany Parks and Recreation Director Kim Lyddane said Wednesday the annexation would give the city flexibility if future developers had to negotiate road improvements with the city. It could also streamline the land use review process if the city controlled the property, she said.
“We really can’t do any of that at this point if it stays with the county,” Lyddane said. “There is no real downside for us to do this.”
Much of the property, Lyddane said, could be made available for other developments besides community parks.
Based on its 2021 Parks Master Plan, Albany maintains 24 parks covering more than 900 acres and plans to add two citywide parks over the next decade. The backlog of parks projects in the city is about $5 million.
Annexing the South Albany property, according to Albany transportation systems analyst Ron Irish, would incur no cost to the city. The city would pay for the park itself, if one were to be built, he said.
The city is considering a proposal for require more fees from developers with housing construction proposals, specifically targeting these funds for new park amenities.
Bringing the property within the city limits could save the city money with a future developer, Irish said, considering a possible negotiation:
“At some point in the future, the parks department would annex, develop and be responsible for building on their side of the street and reimbursing a developer for their water and sewer costs,” Irish said. . “The Parks Department can avoid some of those road construction costs because it has been able to meet some of the developers’ needs.”
On Wednesday, the parks commission voted to submit the property’s annexation to the Albany City Council for further discussion.
The council is due to host a combined virtual and in-person working session to discuss the annexation of South Albany at 4 p.m. on Monday, April 11, among other topics. A public hearing on new calculations of fees homebuilders would pay to help fund new parks is scheduled for May 25.