The Lebanon City Council formally approved a partnership with Goodall Homes that will see a 16-acre park built on Cairo Bend Road at its meeting held Tuesday.

Officials expect the park to open by next fall, and the city intends to contribute $1 million to the build's first phase (the location allows for additions or expansions to the park if the city opts to do so later on).

"This is feedback I received from constituents from day one, that they'd love to have a park within walking distance," Councilor Jeni Lind Brinkman said. "This is going to be our first park in Lebanon that is directly adjacent to residents. (This is) very good, forward thinking and I really appreciate it."

Plans for the park include trail systems, recreational areas and a playground.

"Goodall Homes is going to do some of the construction, since they can get it done cheaper," Lebanon Mayor Bernie Ash said. "The $1 million price tag we budgeted covers everything the city plans to contribute, which includes reimbursing (Goodall Homes)."

According to a resolution approved by the council, that reimbursement will cover sanitary sewer construction and the installation of a gravity sewer extension from Highway 70 to the east side of Cairo Bend Road.

"I think this is a great example of public/private partnerships and opportunities down the road," Brinkman said. "We can partner with developers as we grow as a community … and have walk-able, accessible recreation to our residents."

Research from organizations including the Bay Area Council Economic Institute and Wharton University of Pennsylvania suggests that public/private partnerships, like the one between Lebanon and Goodall Homes, often lower long-term costs despite the higher taxes associated with private financing.

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This is because of factors such as risk sharing between the two partners, the ability to coordinate resources and the ability to bundle project stages like design and construction.

The council also approved to establish new water capacity, sewer capacity and tap fees for the downtown zoning district, which Ash said will only apply to new restaurants and can be requested through the city's public works department

Commissioner of Public Works Jeff Baines said the new fees are approximately 50% of those in other parts of the city when it comes to initial payments, but that the monthly charges are the same.

"This will really allow restaurants to locate on the square at a fair water and sewer fee," he said. "You're not going to get a big restaurant in that area, so you're more likely talking about mom-and-pop restaurants where that can help them get started easier."

Baines estimated that the new fees could see up to four new restaurants brought into downtown in the next few years.

"Historically, there have been three to five restaurants on the square at a time," he said. "It gets difficult because you'll see us charging for additional water when a place of business changes from something else to a restaurant, since they use more of it, and at the end of the day the square can only support so many."

By adjusting those rates, the city hopes to see that number move upward while remaining within a manageable range, which would also bring in additional sales tax revenue.

"It's been so long since we've had restaurants downtown," he said. "We want to encourage them to come out to that area and start up business."

The Lebanon City Council's next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Nov. 19, at 200 N. Castle Heights Ave. in Lebanon.

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