$1.5 million effort one of 16 THPRD projects under way

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Construction crews move dirt near the new footbridge at the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District's A.M. Kennedy Park to connect the park and its new sports field to Southwest Laurel Street, where a local business will allow park parking on evenings and weekends. The 2008 $100 million bond-funded project is one of many park district construction projects planned for this summer.With a new pedestrian bridge and a parking partnership with a neighboring business, a project to expand and redevelop A.M. Kennedy Park in the Raleigh Hills West area is one of the more fully engaged of 16 Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District renovation and expansion projects getting off the ground this summer.

As crews with Brown Construction work to expand the formerly small, simple park at Southwest 102nd Avenue and Kennedy Street, neighbors are seeing the space transform from 5.3 acres to 8.5 acres with amenities such as a sports field, picnic shelter, new playground equipment, community gardens and expanded parking options courtesy of a new bridge and an agreement with a neighboring business.

Funded by the $100 million bond measure district voters approved in 2008, the $1.5 million project when completed this fall will upgrade the space from what was previously little more than an isolated basketball court and wooded area bisected by a trail, and a small field adjacent to a privately-owned house. The district purchased the house, which was razed, and another adjacent piece of property to make room for a sports field big enough to accommodate programmed activities. Some of the larger trees that were removed are being cut into 14-foot-long benches to be placed around the park.

“This is a major makeover for a park that’s been here awhile,” said Steve Gulgren, senior project manager with the park district, noting neighbors encouraged the district to buy the property before a developer did. “It’s going to be really nice.”

An arrangement between the park district and the Oregon Society of Certified Public Accountants at

10206 S.W. Laurel St., will accommodate parking on evenings and weekends outside the building, which is located across a small creek that parallels Laurel Street. A wooden-decked, steel-reinforced bridge provides pedestrian and bike access to the park.

“This gives us the parking we need without affecting the (residential) neighborhood,” Gulgren said on a tour of the site on Tuesday. “We had to have a bridge across the creek. It’s a critical piece to the whole puzzle.”

The bridge aspect also put the project slightly over budget.

“That was not a normal site amenity,” he noted of the bridge.

The park, which is also getting a 10-foot paved walkway, a retaining wall and steps leading from the picnic shelter to the field, helps fill a need in the area for public sports fields, picnic shelters and community garden space.

“The field and the shelter will work well together,” Gulgren said.

The park district worked with the city of Beaverton and Washington County to pave Southwest Kennedy and Laurel streets, which bookend the park to the north and south, with concrete curbs and gutters, wider lanes and new sidewalks on the Kennedy Street side.

“This is the type of park improvement that helps to fix the local infrastructure,” he said. “The city stepped up. The street was in pretty bad shape. Now there’s a new street over there. It’s an example of a good partnership.”

Glen Lhotka, operator and project foreman with Eugene’s Brown Construction, said the A.M. Kennedy project is moving along at a good pace and is well on its way to a fall completion.

“In two weeks, it’s really going to look a lot different,” he said. “Everything seems to be going good.”

Even when the park opens, Gulgren noted, it will probably be close to a year before the grass on the field is ready for heavy use and programmed activities.

“We want to let the grass grow and get it in good shape before we start using it,” he said, adding the park brings a lot of amenities to neighborhood that’s not used to having them. “This is gonna be a real plus for the community. I think neighbors will be proud of it and (park district patrons) will get a lot of use out of it.”

Bonds boost summer construction

With 16 construction projects under way or set to begin in the coming weeks, it’s a busier than usual summer for the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District.

With all but one project funded through the district’s $100 million voter-approved bond measure from 2008, work is focused on developments and redevelopments, trail expansions, natural area restoration and maintenance upgrades are occurring in the next several months. About 130 total projects that involve developing trails and trail connections, adding athletic fields, and upgrading or expanding parks and recreational facilities are planned, with nearly half of them complete.

“When this batch of projects is done, we’ll have six newly improved parks, more trail connections, and several more acres of natural areas that families can enjoy for generations to come,” said Doug Menke, park district general manager. “We continue to deliver on our promise to the public.”

Two of the six parks — Barsotti and Hansen Ridge — are complete developments. The other four are major upgrades, all designed with significant community input, Menke noted.

The district will build new multi-use paths for better community connectivity and enhance walking trails through established natural areas. Improvements at more than 70 acres of natural areas include creating a “Pollinator Project” to provide habitat for birds and butterflies. The district will also remove invasive weeds, shrubs and trees and replace them with native species.

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