Many of you have seen postcards, newsletter articles and other opinion editorials regarding changes to the parks and recreation services in Happy Valley.
On June 6, the City Council unanimously voted to withdraw from the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District (NCPRD). On behalf of the City Council, I want to share a little bit of the background behind this decision. Most importantly, I want to express how excited we are to provide parks and recreation services to the residents of Happy Valley.
Since my time on City Council began in 2004, there has been quite a bit of change. Back then, the population was around 3,000 residents and City Hall was in a farmhouse. At the time, special districts offered services beyond what the city could provide. However, what was good 10+ years ago isn't the case any longer. Today, Happy Valley's population is near 19,000 and growing by over 1,000 residents each year. We are at a critical point in our history and have evolving service demands that are unique to our community.
To date, NCPRD has only built one project in Happy Valley — Hood View Park. Unfortunately, NCPRD didn't involve the city in the early planning stages of the project and Hood View Park ended up being a pay-to-play park. It wasn't designed to meet the needs the city had for a community park. A Happy Valley community park would have been one that provided a variety of active and passive recreation opportunities for local residents. Furthermore, this regional pay-to-play park is in the process of being sold to the North Clackamas School District.
Moving forward, the City Council and I want to ensure that we continue to build new park amenities in Happy Valley. As much as possible, we hope to use the fees charged on new developments for these investments.
During an earlier public hearing on our potential withdrawal from NCPRD, we heard from several of our residents that our city needs more parks facilities. Happy Valley residents want a community center, more sports fields, trails and open spaces. We also heard a strong desire for a wide range of recreational programs.
As mayor, I want to assure the residents that we heard you. In fact, this is what makes me so excited to be moving in the direction of having the city become the parks and recreation provider. First, I know we can rely on this great community to help us build a parks and recreation program that meets your needs. Second, I'm confident in our team at the city to provide a high level of service.
Over the course of the next several months, you will see our team at our Fourth of July festival, Summer Concerts and many other activities to gather your input. There has been quite a bit of planning for the future of parks in Happy Valley and we want to continue this work by identifying the facilities and recreation programs you dream of in the future. That means we need to hear from you.
While we have quite a bit of work ahead, I'm incredibly excited for the city to take this next natural step in our growth. Please stay engaged as we develop a new parks and recreation future in Happy Valley!
Finally, I must acknowledge and thank the NCPRD staff and board for providing parks and recreation services to a very large district, including Happy Valley, on a limited budget. While we have disagreed at times and this is a difficult separation, I'm hopeful we will both move forward in a positive fashion.
Lori DeRemer is the mayor of Happy Valley.