Parks, walkability city priority

Nestled behind the hubbub and commotion of busy U.S. Route 62 in Hillsboro, an unassuming path next to Shaffer Park leads to a pedestrian bridge that was completed earlier this year. Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Brianne Abbott said that the project is part of an overall commitment to accommodating the needs and interests of families and facilitating walkability, with more similarly themed projects planned for the future.

The completion of the pedestrian bridge, which transverses Clear Creek at Liberty Park and Shaffer Park, is the culmination of plans that, “predate (Abbott’s) employment with the city,” but that correspond with the current city administration’s stated values of park improvements.

Abbott said that, “parks are one of the priorities for the city of Hillsboro,” and, to that end, “a parks committee has been created,” to spearhead future improvements. Abbott said that the committee is inclusive of many volunteers who have, “recently completed garden projects as well as a disc golf course at Liberty Park.”

In keeping with the administration’s assertion that, “walkability in Hillsboro is a priority,” Abbott reinforced the significance of the completed pedestrian bridge project because it enables, “safe and complete walkability from the downtown to Liberty Park,” as well as creates the, “connection of two city parks” (Liberty and Shaffer). The bridge, which was partially grant funded and partially bonded, was completed by the Sunesis Corporation with a cost of $375,039, according to Abbott, who added that additional paving of the adjacent parking lot is slated to be completed either this fall or next spring to add finishing touches to the endeavor.

Abbott said that discussions surrounding park projects continue, some of which are in planning phases that, “can hopefully be shared in the near future.” The future of the Railroad Street Park is, according to Abbott, another ongoing subject of discussion, and that although in the planning phase is nevertheless atop the city’s priorities for revitalization in the future.

One of the reasons why the park improvements are important, according to Abbott, is that, “parks attract new families and also serve our existing families and community (by allowing) children to have fun experiences, social opportunities, and the ability to be outside in nature.”

Abbott said that another benefit of thriving and well-appointed parks is that, “parks and recreation go hand in hand with economic development to help attract new businesses and welcome visitors to work and play in our community.”

Juliane Cartaino is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.

A pedestrian bridge transverses Clear Creek and connects Shaffer Park and Liberty Park in Hillsboro. pedestrian bridge transverses Clear Creek and connects Shaffer Park and Liberty Park in Hillsboro. Juliane Cartaino | For The Times-Gazette

By Juliane Cartaino

For The Times-Gazette