Visitors expected to flock to boardwalk at Camille Park, splash pad at Conestoga

Of the numerous Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District improvement projects funded by a $100 million bond measure in 2008 that are now in progress, the two residents may get to enjoy the most this summer are at Camille Park and Conestoga Recreation and Aquatic Center.

Just east of Highway 217 and accessed by Southwest 105th Avenue or Marjorie Lane, Camille Park is a 12-acre oasis with amenities both the young and old can enjoy. Recently completed renovations include new playground equipment, including strategically stacked logs sure to attract adventurous children, and a large sand pit framed by newly placed colored concrete.

There is also an attractive, wood-grained picnic shelter, and the park's pathways have been significantly upgraded. A 700-foot plastic-decked boardwalk system provides year-round wetlands access, which right now includes a lower-lying camas lily meadow that blooms in spring.

The park's rare Oregon white oak habitat - one of the most endangered environments in the Pacific Northwest - was enhanced by thinning some fast-growing ash trees, opening the canopy and providing more light. A wetlands meadow was also replanted with native species, and invasive plants and shrubs were removed.

District Park Ranger Kyle Spinks said the restoration of native plants and the boardwalk through the park's marshier areas should prove popular among nature lovers of all stripes.

'We sought to turn it into an interactive wetland/shrubland,' he noted. 'The idea is you can walk in and see what (Oregon) wetlands are all about.'

Not too far from Camille, crews with Skyward Construction Inc. are busy with the final stages of renovations at Conestoga Recreation and Aquatic Center, 9985 S.W. 125th Ave.

The bustling indoor-outdoor complex will see not only a 3,000-square-foot fitness room, a large classroom and new family dressing rooms, but also the district's first outdoor splash pad. Described by park district officials as a 'watery wonderland,' the play area just outside the indoor swimming pool - set to be up and running by June - will feature a variety of whimsical toys and nozzles that spray water in different patterns and directions.

'It's a water playground,'' said bond Project Manager Peter Foster. 'There are nozzles in the ground that spray water up, plus standing toys, with water squirting everywhere, and a waterfall.

'I tell you, this is gonna be one busy place in July, when the kids see this.'

When the splash pad season passes, the outdoor space - whose lighted, multicolored waterfall feature operates year-round - can be used for a variety of events, including 'high school graduation parties or anything anyone else can dream up,' Foster said.

The massive, $3.6 million project also includes a new fitness and classroom area, significantly increased and reconfigured men's and women's locker room space, a new outdoor restroom, new classrooms and expanded fitness center, a reconfigured west lawn with new landscaping, additional parking and increasing capacity in the storm-water runoff pond.

Foster praised the efficiency of the Ridgefield, Wash.-based Skyward Construction crew in bringing the project in on time, on budget and with a minimum of disruptions to Conestoga's patrons.

'They have been doing an amazingly good job,' he said, praising the company's patience with public agency bureaucracy. 'As a government agency, we're not the easiest people to work with. But we've got work.'

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