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New Cooper Mountain park's gone to the dogs

Fenced dog area attracts visitors to developing Paul & Verna Winkelman Park


Note: This story was amended to update THPRD spokesman Bob Wayt's comments about the need for the grass on the park's athletic field to mature before it's open for use.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Michael Perry throws a ball to his two dogs Sally and Mya at the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District's new Paul & Verna Winkelman Park near Cooper Mountain.If the sinister Mr. Burns from “The Simpsons” were to visit Paul & Verna Winkelman Park, he might be tempted to utter one of his trademark phrases: “Release the hounds.”

The Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District’s first development phase at the 20-acre park at 10139 S.W. 175th Ave. near Cooper Mountain is complete. The two-acre dog park — including a fenced, wet-weather paddock as well as an expansive sloping area with a doggie agility course — opened on June 1, with local residents and visitors and their canines coming by to enjoy the new amenities ever since.

“We’ve been waiting for it to open,” said Cooper Mountain resident Crystal Ebert, who along with her fiance, Derek Heim, brought Fable, her Pembrooke Welsh corgi, out on a cool, cloudy late Tuesday evening. “I think it’s helpful to have a dog park here. It’s nice to have off-leash areas. People want to have their (dogs) running loose more often.”

Phase one of the project, part of a $1.27 million project that started a year ago, is funded through the park district’s $100 million bond measure that voters approved in 2008.

While the dog park and quarter-mile perimeter walking trail are ready for the public, the turf on the athletic field the gravel path encircles won’t be ready for heavy use until this fall.

"The grass on the field has come in nicely but we want it to be able to mature even more before it is opened up for team sports," said Bob Wayt, park district spokesman. "As a result, we won't schedule any games or practices there until fall."

The approximately $2 million second phase, for which funding is not yet secured, will include community gardens, shelters and linking the loop path with a trail connecting to the nearby Cooper Mountain Nature Park at 18892 S.W. Kemmer Road.

The late Paul and Verna Winkelman, longtime Cooper Mountain residents, donated 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 the new park occupies.

“This is another milestone in the implementation of our bond measure,” said park district General Manager Doug Menke of the rural-flavored park. “We’re doing what we told voters we would do. Winkelman is a strong community asset now and will be even better in the future when phase two is completed.”

The dog park is fully fenced and partitioned into a small paddock, a winter paddock with wood chips for use during the wet season and a large grassy area sloping down to the street. The small paddock provides protection from larger dogs, Wayt explained.

Other amenities include a paw wash and pet drinking fountain and the dog agility area with jump walls and weave poles.

On Tuesday evening, Fable appeared pretty comfortable with the new features, as she sprang her little legs up and over the barriers before demonstrating a doggie treat-induced rollover.

“She’s doing good,” Ebert said, noting it was the corgi’s second time navigating the course. “She likes bouncing around. As long as she’s got treats, she’s OK.”

Admitting fenced public dog parks are “not always easy to find,” Ebert, a veterinarian at Companion Pet Clinic, said she’s seen at least five or six dog owners at the park on recent afternoons since the Winkelman facility opened.

“That will go up. I’m sure of it, once people figure out it’s here,” she said. “It’s pretty nice to live with this in the area.”

Approximately $547,000 of the Winkelman park project was earmarked from bond measure funds with about $282,000 coming from systems development charges, the one-time fees paid by commercial developers to cover public infrastructure improvements.

When the natural grass turf is ready on the athletic field, it will be used for a variety of sports, including soccer, lacrosse, football, baseball and softball, Wayt said. The park district will begin scheduling it for games and practices this fall.

Gesturing toward the slew of seedling trees park district arborists planted, Heim noted the only thing the park lacks right now is sufficient shade.

“Those trees planted will eventually help that,” he said.by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Sally and Mya chase each other and the tennis ball at the new Paul and Verna Winkelman Park in Beaverton.




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