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Winkelman Park to provide space for athletes, dogs


Bond measure-funded work under way at donated 20-acre property

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Steve Gulgren, the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District superintendent of planning, stops to assess progress in the development of Paul and Verna Winkelman Park located near Cooper Mountain.In a way, the sublimely pastoral landscape along Southwest 175th Avenue near Cooper Mountain makes the development of public green space seem a bit superfluous.

But when construction wraps up on the first phase of development at the new 20-acre Paul and Verna Winkelman Park, lovers of nature, athletics — not to mention happy, healthy dogs — will likely rejoice.

The approximately $1.2 million Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District project is transforming the sloping former family homestead into a multi-use area. Key features include a large athletic field, gravel walking trail around the field perimeter and 2-acre fenced dog park, including a bark-chip lined winter paddock and parking lot.

Lead contractor Goodfellows Bros. Inc. created the 360-foot by 260-foot sports field by making an approximately 20-foot cut at the top of the property’s steep slope. The excavated soil was used to shore up the south end of the grass-seeded expanse. A 10-foot fence will help keep athletes from having to scramble down the resulting embankment when soccer balls go astray.

“The kids will feel like they’re playing on top of the world. It’s beautiful,” said Steve Gulgren, the park district’s superintendent of planning and development. “The field is surrounded by trees. It’s really gorgeous.”

Along with a $3 million renovation of Evelyn Schiffler Park near downtown Beaverton, Winkelman Park is one of several current district projects funded largely through the $100 million THPRD bond measure local voters approved in 2008. Approximately $547,000 of the Winkelman project was earmarked from bond measure funds with about $282,000 coming from systems development charges, one-time fees paid by commercial developers to cover public infrastructure improvements.

Like with Schiffler Park, which the Evelyn Schiffler family donated to the district in 1974, a local family donated land to the district for public enjoyment. Longtime Cooper Mountain residents the late Paul and Verna Winkelman passed along their family homestead and farm to the district in 1998. Aerial photographs indicate much of the property was farmed, with the exception of its southwestern corner, which is occupied by the new park.

The one-story Winkelman house still stands and is occupied by a family who rents the residence from the park district.

Completed in 2010, the park’s master plan outlines amenities, including a multi-use athletic field, dog park, restrooms, picnic shelters, community gardens, adequate parking and a loop trail around the park that will connect with a future regional trail heading to nearby Cooper Mountain Nature Park.

Phase one of renovations will focus on those first few items, with the approximately $2 million second phase to include community gardens, shelters and the nature park trail connection. At this point, the second phase is not funded, so no timeline for its implementation has been set, said Bob Wayt, park district spokesman.

Significant progress is being made in the first phase, however. The fenced, wood-chipped dog park on the park’s east side will be open for use this coming winter. The open grassy area, where contractors built a flat knoll to set off the steep slope, will not open until the turf matures, likely in the spring.

“You can imagine standing up here and throwing a ball down there to a dog,” Gulgren observed from atop the fledgling dog park. “The dog will get tired in a hurry.”

Like with the dog park, the seeded grass on the athletic field will not be ready for sustained use until late summer or fall 2013.

When it opens, it won’t be a moment too soon.

“We don’t have enough fields (in the district) to accommodate all the athletes who want to play,” Wayt said.

Gulgren said it will be worth the wait. “This is really going to be a nice community park.”