THPRD News September 2020

Park maintenance in a pandemic

We wanted to find out how Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District (THPRD) has been managing to maintain facilities with a reduced workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jon Campbell, THPRD Maintenance Operations Manager, answered our questions.

What was the district’s initial maintenance plan when things began shutting down in March? 

We designed a Park Maintenance service model that would keep our open amenities safe and available for use, focused on providing essential services. All part-time staff were laid off in early April due to fiscal impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. The loss of this valuable workforce meant the scope of work for the district’s remaining staff had to be narrowed to the most critical functions. 

We have been running at approximately 30% staff levels, compared to a normal year. Full-time Park Maintenance Staff work alone, and focus on identified essential services: THPRD parks and Beaverton School District shared properties are mowed; trash and litter is collected and dog bag dispensers are stocked. Pathways are kept clear and safe. We respond to vandalism, graffiti and safety items.

Has that changed since April? 

Western Oregon Dispensary

We were able to bring back 10-12 part-time staff in June. Their focus has been to provide additional support in mowing and trash collection, and also to help fill three vacant full-time positions in Park Maintenance.

Are there any parks that aren’t being maintained at all?

No, each of our parks is being maintained on a weekly basis.

I’ve heard that some parks in Portland are getting more vandalism. Are you seeing any of that here? Increased camping, or trash?

There has certainly been a spike in graffiti and trash. THPRD launched two new programs to help address increases in graffiti. The district’s Message Gardens at Schiffler Park and AM Kennedy Park are meant to provide the public with a safe space to share messages of peace, solidarity, and support for racial justice reform. 

In September, the district will be launching THPRD’s first Talking Wall with students from Sunset High School’s Black Student Union and the organization, Color Outside the Lines, that pairs BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artists with BIPOC student artists, for mentorship and support. Five murals are being planned for installation at the Sunset Sports Complex on September 12. The district has not seen an increase in camping.

Maintenance staff are doing their best right now to focus on the most critical issues in front of them in terms of park maintenance. THPRD wants to acknowledge our service levels are not at their typical levels and have been impacted by the pandemic. We have had to implement cost-saving measures such as reduced watering and reduced routine maintenance. These reductions in service levels have been very carefully considered. The district looks forward to returning to normal service levels over time as our financial condition allows us that opportunity.

I know people appreciate very much that the parks are open for walking! Anything you want to remind the public about?

The most important thing we can all do right now is respect the rules that are in effect to ensure the safety of everyone visiting the parks and trails. We want people to be outdoors, enjoy the public space, and stay healthy and active. But that does mean right now that we need to respect the rules that are in effect for our shared safety. Please wear a face covering when you can’t maintain six feet of physical distancing from others. 

Also, this has been a very stressful and difficult time for a lot of people. People are frustrated and not expressing themselves in the most respectful of ways. The statewide rules that are in effect continue to limit our activities. 

Playgrounds are closed until we enter Phase 2 in the county. Many of our facilities will remain closed until 2021. Please remember, it’s okay to be frustrated but it isn’t okay to be abusive to public employees. It has been disappointing to see the increased number of troubling interactions THPRD staff have experienced from people who are ignoring the temporary rules. We need the public’s help in working with us as we all navigate this difficult time and respecting the temporary rules that are in effect. 

Volunteer Opportunities

Sign up here for these local events. 

Dog Run Work Party at Jackie Husen Park

Thursday, September 10, 9-11:30 am, 10955 NW Reeves

Help us mulch the Dog Run at Jackie Husen Park! Volunteers will spread mulch in preparation for the fall rains. Please bring your own hand sanitizer, face mask and a reusable water bottle to drink from throughout the session. If possible, we also ask that you bring your own gardening gloves. Extra gloves will be available.

Talking Wall Art at Sunset Park Sports Complex

Saturday, September 12, 8 am-5 pm, Sunset Park Sports Complex, 13707 NW Science Park Drive

Volunteer to support the Black Student Union, Color Outside the Lines and local artists to create their Talking Walls murals. The event will also host key speakers, an art on the fence project and a Chalk the Block activity. Volunteers will greet attendees and provide support to various art activities. Please bring your own hand sanitizer, face mask and a reusable water bottle to drink from throughout your shift. Multiple shifts are available, including event setup, support and cleanup!

UPDATE! More facilities open September 8!

Playgrounds, Outdoor Play Equipment, and Basketball Courts Open Immediately; Babette Horenstein Tennis Center to Open Sept. 14; Some Pools to Open by the End of the Month

September 8, 2020: THPRD is pleased to announce more openings due to an announcement from the Oregon Health Authority last Friday on statewide reopening guidance for outdoor recreation, pools, and sports courts. With the change in the statewide guidance, THPRD is able to open additional amenities for the public.

Open Immediately

All playground equipment, outdoor exercise equipment, and basketball courts(Basketball is limited to shooting hoops. Games and all contact sports are still prohibited in Phase 1.)  We respectfully ask for the public’s patience as we work on updating signage this week at our more than 100 park sites.  We will be returning swings, removing barriers and caution tape, and updating temporary rules signs at all park sites over the next week or so. 

Babette Horenstein Tennis Center to Open September 14th

The center’s hours are tentatively set for 8 am to 12 pm and 3 to 9 pm Monday-Friday and 8 am-12 pm on Saturday and Sunday.  Online court reservations will be available through the district’s registration portal for 90-minutes blocks of time.  People will be able to reserve tennis or pickleball courts.  Youth tennis camps and classes will be offered, and 60-minute private lessons will be available for one to four people at a time, costs vary based on the number of people participating.  

Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center and Conestoga Recreation & Aquatic Center Pools to Open by the end of the month

Another big announcement from the Oregon Health Authority on Friday was allowing pools to open during Phase 1, with some limitations in place.  Staff are working on plans to reopen the pools at the Aquatic Center and Conestoga by the end of the month.  Please visit www.thprd.org for updates.  The district needs a couple of weeks to hire and train aquatics staff as well as prepare the pools for opening. 

Both pools are anticipated to offer scheduled water fitness opportunities and reservations for lap swim.  To reserve your spot, visit www.thprd.org/portal.  THPRD’s remaining pools and splash pads will be closed for the remainder of 2020. 

Conestoga and Athletic Center reopening

THPRD is happy to welcome the public back to two flagship facilities, the Tualatin Hills Athletic Center (50 NW 158th Ave.) and Conestoga Recreation & Aquatic Center (9985 SW 125th Ave.). Both locations opened to the public on Monday, August 31. There are some changes in operation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both in the activities offered and the processes to access services. The pools at Conestoga will remain closed until Washington County enters Phase 2 of the state’s reopening framework. Conestoga is open daily, 7 am to 7 pm. Tualatin Hills Athletic Center is open Monday-Friday, 7 am to 7 pm, and Saturday-Sunday, 8 am to 2 pm. 

Reservations are required for most activities: Patrons will be able to register for their favorite amenities such as the weight room or sign up for classes online. Reservations can be made one week in advance for use of the weight room, indoor courts & gyms, and fitness classes. 

We appreciate your help adjusting to this new process as we comply with state requirements for contact tracing, physical distancing, and class size limits. To register please go to thprd.org/portal. Patrons must have a THPRD account to register. If you do not have access to a computer or if you require assistance from a staff member to register, you may call the center to reserve your spot. Please contact the appropriate center directly at the following numbers: Athletic Center (503) 629-6330 or Conestoga Recreation & Aquatic Center (503) 629-6313.

Conestoga will be offering fitness and yoga classes that are limited to 12 people at a time. The weight & cardio room will also be available for registration of up to 12 people at a time. All drop-in programs have been suspended at this time. Check out class descriptions at thprd.org/facilities/recreation/conestoga/ and register at the portal.

The Athletic Center will be offering a weight & cardio area, fitness and yoga classes, as well as access to the walking track by reservation. This site will also be offering drop-in pickleball, table tennis, and badminton. Four people will be allowed per court. Personal training sessions are also available. Check out class descriptions at thprd.org/facilities/sports/athletic-center and register at thprd.org/portal.

Health & Safety Information: THPRD is following all Oregon Health Authority and state guidelines for workout facilities. Face coverings, specifically masks, are required for individuals over the age of five inside THPRD buildings. The district has limited the number of people in the facilities and reduced class sizes consistent with state guidance. All equipment has been spaced to allow six feet of separation. All equipment and spaces will be cleaned and disinfected after every reservation timeframe. District maintenance staff carries out enhanced cleaning procedures for the facilities including upgrades to the buildings’ air filter systems. All building visitors must register to ensure compliance with state-required contact tracing requirements. 

Thanks to a grant award from Washington County, as part of the federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds, THPRD will be able to bring back FREE mobile recreation programs very soon. We will be announcing details in the coming weeks. We are also working on late summer and fall community events that can be held consistent with physical distancing guidelines. 

Facilities expected to open later this fall include the Babette Horenstein Tennis Center, the Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center (once Washington County enters Phase 2 per state requirements), Cedar Hills Recreation Center, and the Tualatin Hills Nature Center. THPRD is working on plans to offer out of school time care and preschool care options for families.

In 2021, we expect to open the Garden Home Recreation Center, the Elsie Stuhr Center, and additional swim center locations (Aloha, Beaverton, Harman & Sunset). Garden Home Community Library and private tenants are currently operating at Garden Home, and the Meals on Wheels People program continues to prepare meals at the Elsie Stuhr Center for distribution to community members.