GEARHART- Plans to develop a new city park in Gearhart have gotten a jumpstart after an anonymous Gearhart resident donated $50,000 for the effort.

"We decided that the piece of property across the street from Gearhart City Hall would be the best spot for the park because it is so low that it cannot really be commercially developed," said Gearhart City Councilor Diane Widdop. "It is the perfect place for a park because it is close to stores and restaurants, the art center and there is plenty of parking."

Widdop's vision of the new park includes beautiful landscaping, low vegetation, walking paths, benches, picnic tables, a pavilion, sculptures and a water feature. The park amenities would be determined on how much money is raised for the project.

"We want to maintain this park as a quiet area. No bands. No noise." she said. "It's typically Gearhart where you can meet your friends for coffee or lunch. This would be the first park of its kind in downtown Gearhart."

Supporters of the new park are hoping for more public donations and will also seek grants for the park project.

"The $50,000 will be the seed money to get us started," she said. "We hope others will want to donate money for picnic tables or benches in honor of a loved one. The people of Gearhart have been very generous in their donations."

Widdop said the property is also adjacent to the Ridge Path; a popular waking path that cuts through the city. Under the city parks master plan, the Ridge Path will be extended all the way to Gearhart Lane.

"People walk the Ridge Path all year long and it would be a natural connection to the new park," Widdop said.

The parks master plan development is a requirement of the Gearhart Comprehensive Plan, according to Chad Sweet, Gearhart City Manager.

"This donation is helping us move the parks master plan forward," Sweet said.

The Gearhart Planning Commission has already approved the zone change needed to develop the city park. A public hearing detailing the zone change was to be held before the Gearhart City Council Nov. 2.

Widdop said the Gearhart Planning Commission must also review the conditional uses designated for the park.

"So we will go back to the planning commission and discuss in more detail what our vision for this new park will be," Widdop said. "At that point we will have a blueprint of what we can have. We hope to get the commission's approval so we can get started."

Supporters hope to break ground on the new park this winter.

Sweet said the City would follow a process to make certain the park development is done correctly.

"We want to make sure we have the blessings of the residents and we give them the opportunity to speak about the plan," he said. "We may not be able to do everything right away, but the blueprint will help us prevent Gearhart from having a mismatched park. It will be something nice."

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