The Balm Grove Tavern, as seen from the side during an open house on May 1. Photo: Chas Hundley

BALM GROVE - An open house on May 1 at the Clean Water Services-owned Balm Grove property allowed community members in Gales Creek to tour the historic site, view where Clean Water Services plans to remove the concrete dam spanning the structure, and ask questions of project staff.

While there, community members were asked to vote on what color to repaint the existing Balm Grove Tavern, a building described by Shannon Huggins, Clean Water Services public involvement coordinator, as having "very sketchy structural integrity" in an email to the Gales Creek Journal.

While most of what the water agency plans to do on the property has to do with work in and around where Gales Creek flows through the property, including removal of the dam, adding native trees and plants, and working on stream restoration to improve fish habitat, the structure of the old tavern is an eye catching sight as one passes it on Highway 8 or Balm Grove Loop.

And the sight, at the moment, is not good.

The building, converted to a residential structure years ago, has not seen much in the way of maintenance. Plywood covers most windows, while fading and peeling paint hangs on the walls, with an excess of moss coating the roof. Shingles on the front of the building are in disarray.

"The project team is following up on conversations about making the old tavern more pleasant to drive past during this phase. The next step is a fresh coat of paint, in the color scheme that got the most votes at the open house, sometime this summer," Clean Water Services said in an email update to people interested in the Balm Grove property.

According to project staff, the color scheme that won the most votes was a gray/acier color with white and yellow accents.

Those who did not attend the May 1 open house are invited to contact a number of individuals connected to the project, or some who have knowledge of the property's history.

Contact Mike Conroy (503-334-2288×109) about streamside restoration on private property; Abbey Rhode (503-681-4472) about construction topics, including removal of the concrete barrier and changes to the creek; Joyce Sauber (503-357-2663) or Juli Waarvik (503-334-2288×108) about history; John Goetz III(503-681-3660) about revegetation with native plants; or Shannon Huggins (503-681-3694) about other topics or if you're not sure whom to call. 

Balm Grove is located at 10660 NW Balm Grove Loop in Gales Creek.