Athletic field, trail and dog areas highlight new park

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Dogs enjoyed the party during the grand opening of Paul and Verna Winkelman Park in Aloha on Tuesday evening.Marla Francois remembers childhood at her great uncle Paul Winkelman’s property near Cooper Mountain like it was yesterday.

“We came up here all the time,” she said on Tuesday evening at what is now Paul and Verna Winkelman Park. “We played in the barn, rode the tractor and picked cherries. There used to be a little chicken coop. They got rid of that when I was very young. Then it was mainly cows and horses.”

Cows and horses are long gone from the Winkelman property, which is now populated by dogs, dog owners, soccer and lacrosse players and nature lovers of all stripes.

All of the above were out in full force Tuesday night as the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District hosted a grand opening of Paul and Verna Winkelman Park, located at 10139 S.W. 175th Ave., near Cooper Mountain in Aloha. Park district officials estimate between 200 and 300 attended the event, which featured free food, fun and prizes.

While children and teens played soccer on the newly opened athletics field, the park district’s Rec Mobile and Nature Mobile provided activities for children, the Beaverton Police Department was on hand with a K9 unit dog and handler, and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue brought a fire TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Jessica Mull gives a friendly pat to Beaverton Police K9 Jago during the grand opening party for Paul and Verna Winkelman Park near Cooper Mountain in Aloha.

Park district General Manager Doug Menke helmed a ribbon-cutting ceremony in which players from the Aloha United Soccer Club charged through the red ribbon.

With the exception of the still-seasoning athletics field, the park opened to the public on June 1, following a 12-month construction project to transform the 20-acre farm the late Paul and Verna Winkelman donated to the district in 1998.

Tuesday’s grand opening marked the culmination of the park’s first phase of development, a $1.27 million project funded through the district’s $100 million bond measure that voters approved in 2008.

The developed portion features a two-acre dog park, a multipurpose youth athletic field with backstop, parking and a perimeter pathway. The dog park is fully fenced and partitioned into a small dog paddock, an all-season area with wood chips and a large grassy area for pooches of all sizes to run and play off-leash. The natural grass athletic field will be used for a variety of sports, including soccer, lacrosse, football, baseball and softball.

Francois, who attended the opening festivities with her mother, Marie Winkelman Feris, said it was a thrill to see how nice the property looks — and how many people are enjoying it — knowing how Paul Winkelman felt about it.

“He took great pride in his property and making it look beautiful,” she said, noting Paul made it clear as he was dying of prostate cancer that the fruit trees he planted were there for future generations to enjoy. “He kept talking about the trees and made sure I knew everyone was to pick the fruit.”

Pam Wagoner, a Murray Hill resident, said she loves the park’s pastoral ambience and brings her poodle, Deidre, to the dog park on a regular basis.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s peaceful, with great views and nice dogs. There’s not enough seating and no shade, but other than that, it’s a great place.”

Feris, whose uncle and aunt were Paul and Verna Winkelman, said it’s thrilling to see so many enjoying the property where she and her friends used to camp out in the summer.

“We thought that was so cool,” she said of the childhood memory. “My aunt and uncle loved children. It was my uncle’s dream to have a park here, but he died too soon to get it together.

“This is just amazing,” she added, surveying the festive scene. “It’s just amazing and wonderful — his dream come true. Thank goodness Verna was able to do this. I’m sure (Paul) is smiling.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Liz Shatzer hangs out with her Burnese mountain dogs, Bismarck and Porter, during the grand opening of Paul and Verna Winkelman Park in Aloha on Tuesday evening.

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