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Park district sports complex work digs in

A year from now, residents in the northwestern portion of the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District not only will have the opportunity to play on new sports fields and tennis courts but will have a picnic facility, concession stand and restrooms to boot.

On Thursday, representatives from the parks district and Portland Community College officially broke ground on a 30-acre community recreation complex at the college's Rock Creek campus.

'As you know, this is a win-win partnership,' said Katherine Persson, president of the PCC Rock Creek Campus. 'It doesn't get any better than this.'

The new facility includes six tennis courts, four baseball and softball diamonds and two synthetic turf sports fields for football and soccer. In addition, a concession stand, covered picnic pavilion and open-air plaza will be included.

Expected completion of the $10.1 million project is the summer of 2007.

'We worked long and hard with Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation to bring this along,' said Karen McKinney, a member of the Portland Community College board. 'It's been many hours; many meetings with the board.'

The new complex won't only serve current residents but the 14,000 people expected to inhabit the North Bethany area once it's built out.

Larry Pelatt, a Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District board member, said that in addition to park district residents, the benefits of the complex spread further. Pelatt said he expects athletic teams from 11 Western states to play in tournaments at the facility.

In his last official act as head of the park district, General Manager Ron Willoughby told groundbreaking attendees that the recreation complex was a great opportunity for two agencies to work together to meet the needs of both park district residents and PCC students in a venture that normally would cost millions of dollars if land had to be purchased outright.

Estimates for land purchased in that area are anywhere from $500,000 to $600,000 an acre, according to district officials.

Keith Hobson, Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District assistant general manager, said the complex also would contain a sustainable parking system where parking stalls contain an extra thick section of gravel. Also, a bioswale system will aid in naturally filtering runoff from parking lot water.

'There will be over 600 trees installed as part of this project,' Hobson announced to cheers from the crowd.

Also, 100-foot-wide dirt berms, which will be seven to eight feet tall, will act as buffers along much of the site. Those berms will contain grass and landscaping.

Steve Gulgren, park district superintendent of planning and development, said he expects work on the natural turf fields to be visible by Sept. 15.

An agreement calls for PCC to lease the land to the park district for $1 a year for 25 years with an option to add another 15 years to the agreement. The park district will develop and maintain the site. PCC students will use the facilities during normal weekday hours with the park district having use during evenings and weekends.

Meanwhile, the scope of the project is the largest in recent parks history. The Howard M. Terpenning Recreation Complex on Southwest 158th Avenue and Walker Road comprises about 90 acres with the four soccer/athletic fields making up about 30 acres.