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Volume 7, Issue 1

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January 2009
     

Park District acquires more land for “Northeast Park”

NE Park vicinityIn 2001, Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District (THPRD) acquired a 4.3 acre parcel of land at the corner of Saltzman Road and Laidlaw from the owner, who preferred to sell it to the district to preserve the natural environment. Bronson Creek runs through the land in a steep ravine.

THPRD Director of Planning Hal Bergsma explains that, “The District’s Board of Directors identified acquisition of property in the area as a high priority because of lack of existing park land and area population growth. The District wanted to acquire park land while it was still available, even though much of the area is outside the District’s boundaries.” The house that was on the property has been rented out since then.

Bronson Creek
Bronson Creek runs through the middle of the new park land

Then late in 2008, the district acquired a second 2.9 acre parcel through an agreement with the Trust for Public Lands (TPL). The owner had contacted the district in 2006 about selling the property, but they couldn’t agree on a price, so the owner sold it to a developer, who proceeded to get approval for a 12-lot subdivision. When the recession began to hit in the area, the developer contacted both THPRD and TPL to sell the property. Bergsma says, “The District deferred to TPL in negotiating with the owner. The owner eventually agreed on a sale price with TPL, who in turn sold the property to the District for its appraised value.”

Together, the district paid a total of $1.96 million for the 7.18 acre parcel, which isn’t bad these days. The Washington County Board of Commissioners entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the THPRD Board to contribute $500,000 toward the purchase of the White/Winchester property.  The County funding comes from County park systems development charges (SDCs) levied on building permits for development that occurred within the THPRD planned service area but outside the District’s boundaries.  The District’s funds for acquisition also came from District SDCs on development within District boundaries.

park flat
Although the creek sides are steep, there is a fair amount of flat land in the parcel

Because the district’s Natural Resources Management Plan indicates that land in the upper reaches of Bronson Creek should be a District priority for acquisition, THPPRD has continued interest in acquiring land along the creek to allow for future development of the planned Bronson Creek Trail. The proposed trail (see map) could eventually extend to the Multnomah County line and beyond, becoming the first connection from the Tualatin Valley to the trail network in Forest Park.

Bergsma notes that, “The bond measure approved by the voters in November programs $12 million for acquisition and restoration of natural areas, with another $1.2 million for acquisition of trail corridors. We assume about 70% of the  $12 million will be for acquisition, or $8.4 million. As noted above, the acquisition of land along Bronson Creek is likely to be a high priority.”

NE Park house
The house on the newly-acquired property is boarded up and will be demolished shortly

The residence on the new property is unoccupied and boarded up. It is likely to be demolished in the near future,  Bergsma says. “Although the public can access the park site, they should recognize the privacy of the residents of the rental, and they should not attempt to enter the boarded up structure. Park security is monitoring activity in the park.”

Northeast Park is classified as a neighborhood park. Bergsma indicates that there are no plans or funds to develop the park in the foreseeable future, and it is unlikely the park will be developed until most of the surrounding area annexes into the District. He says, “Before any park is developed District staff involve the community in a master planning process to determine a desired design. The proposed master plan is then taken to the District’s elected Board of Directors for final approval.” A permanent name for the park will be chosen as part of the master planning process.

Washington County now requires new development that is within the THPRD ultimate service area to annex into the district when development occurs. But with development slowing because of the recession and fallout from the housing bubble, it’s uncertain when there will be enough surrounding district territory to trigger park development.

 

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