A publication of the Cedar Mill Business Association
|Volume 3, Issue 12||
Merritt Orchard Park
Tucked away behind some houses between Leahy and Barnes, Merritt Orchard
Park has been easy to ignore. When developer Robert Randall Company
finished the Merritt Orchard subdivision in 1990, the 1.9-acre site was
donated to the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District (THPRD). It’s
typical of the parcels that the district used to accept from developers – small,
steep and largely unusable because the buffer area around Johnson
Creek (required by Clean Water Services), which runs through it, takes
up most of the space in the park (see figure 1). Included in the park property
are two 10-foot access strips that lead to Washington Street.
But now Renaissance Homes is finishing the Peterkort Woods subdivision
across the stream, and an 8-foot wide ADA accessible trail is being built
which will run from Cedar Hills Blvd. behind the development and then cross
Johnson Creek and connect to Washington Street. A connecting soft-surface
path will wind through the park (see figure 2). Renaissance Homes and Trammell
Crow Residential are paying $1.6 million for the design and construction
of most of the trail network.
This is the first segment of a planned trail that will eventually run along Johnson Creek through the rest of the Peterkort development and connect with the Teufel development. Washington County’s Cedar Hills/Cedar Mill Community Plan calls for trail connections throughout the vicinity of the Sunset Transit Center. THPRD normally doesn’t condemn land proactively to create these trails; Washington County in most cases requires the developers to work with THPRD on providing trail connectivity which usually results in them paying for the construction of trail segments as part of the Park District’s System Development Charge program.
Tiny Merritt Orchard Park made news recently when property owner Tom
Posey attempted to contest the eight-foot hard-surface trail which will
run along the back and east side of his property. He lives adjacent to
one of the 10-foot access strips, and has been using district property
as part of his yard during the 14 years that he’s been living there.
He claims that he didn’t realize that it was park district land.
He asked the THPRD board to substitute a five-foot path that would allow
him to keep some of his planting.
Encroachment, where park neighbors use park property, is common throughout
THPRD. Some forms of encroachment, such as compatible planting, are
acceptable and won’t result in district action. But when homeowners’ use
of park property interferes with public use or threatens public safety,
the district informs the property owner and requests removal of the
encroaching material within 90 days. Posey received a 90-day extension
at the November 7 board meeting, and must have the area cleared by
February 6, 2006.
Encroachments on Merritt Orchard Park include fences, lawns, sports courts, play structures, garden sheds, treehouses and ornamental plantings. THPRD Superintendent of Security Operations Gary Dodson explains, “Even though a date has not been set for construction on the soft trail, we have asked all the homeowners to remove all physical encroachment structures and to clear both access entries to the park of all encroachments. The District has allowed plants and vegetation to remain for the time being until the trail is constructed. Removal of plants and vegetation will occur at that time.”
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