Let’s be honest: Grown adults have been counting down the days until the nearly 30-foot slide at McClure Park is open for business.
The long, winding slide has been sitting at the tiny square-shaped park all winter, blocked off and decidedly not ready for sliding. “We got caught in the winter weather,” said Dave McElroy of the Friends of McClure Park.
The nonprofit has coordinated with the Astoria Parks and Recreation Department since 2013 to improve, advocate and care for the park, located right where Astoria’s Eighth Street hill starts to really get scary.
Contractors haven’t been able to finish up several pieces of prep work to complete the installation of the slide, McElroy explained. But, he said, “As soon as the weather changes, we’ll be finishing it up.”
He hopes work could begin again in May, and mark the kickoff of several other projects in the park as well including an Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible path.
The friends group had advocated for a big slide in 2015. Plans and funding were in place. The original slide would have been a straight chute, but there were concerns about how quickly people would go down, said Jonah Dart-McLean, the city’s park maintenance supervisor. The final version has a couple of kinks designed to slow descent. Plans for the slide didn’t get very far in 2015, though.
Then, last June, the friends group entered into an agreement with the city to construct an embankment on a hill to the south side of the park and finally install the slide. City staff will need to inspect the slide and the installation afterwards to make sure it complies with city requirements.
The action coincided with the City Council’s approval of a site-specific master plan for the nearly 1 acre park, as well as an individual plan for Shively Park on the other side of town.
This agreement with the friends group laid the foundation for other recent park adoption proposals at Post Office Park, Tidal Rock Park and the creation of an educational garden at Alderbrook Park by the Clasp County Master Gardeners, Dart-McLean said.
While the city had allowed maintenance agreements and a type of park adoption in the past, the agreement with the Friends of McClure Park was the first stab at something more formal.
“They were kind of our test case with this slide,” Dart-McLean said.
Plans for McClure first began to really take off following the finalization of a comprehensive parks master plan in 2016. That plan looked at the city’s park system and the parks department’s facilities as a whole to evaluate how people used different sites and amenities and what they wanted going forward. The idea was to establish “long and short-term vision and priorities.”
Under the master plan, the groups involved determined that McClure Park had low usage and was in poor condition. The assessment put the park on par with several other small parks around the city, including places like Alderbrook Park or the Peoples Park where the Astoria Scandinavian Heritage Association hopes to site a monument and where, for now, the nonprofit Filling Empty Bellies feeds lunch to people in need.
What has set McClure apart, however, is its active friends group.
The master plan for McClure was developed with the friends group in mind, Parks Director Angela Cosby told the City Council last June when the blueprint came back for approval. The city and the group plan to collaborate on future work and the city expects to draft a maintenance plan to complement the park’s existing master plan.
“The whole community has gotten behind that park and I think it has really united the neighborhood,” Mayor Arline LaMear said in June.