Grand opening of Bethany park uncorks history of Hansen family farm

Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Colleen Lane receives a hug from Emma Gibson, 11, at the conclusion of the Hansen Ridge Park grand opening event on Tuesday evening. For decades, Lane's grandparents, Harry and Ida Hansen, ran a potato and dairy farm on land where the park sits.When Colleen Lane visited her grandparents during summers in the farming community of Bethany, the young girl loved to play and frolic through the fields, creeks and country roads — that is, when she wasn’t helping Harry and Ida Hansen with canning, farming or household chores.

But as a girl growing up in Seattle, even doing work on the farm was fun.

“Oh, I loved coming down to visit,” she said on Tuesday evening, just across Southwest Kaiser Road from where her mother grew up. “My grandma dried her clothes on the clothesline. The smell of the sheets was so comforting. We would can fruits and vegetables we picked from the garden.”

Thanks to a recently completed Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District project, kids are still having fun on part of the former Hansen family property. There may not be any canning or gardening involved, but Hansen Ridge Park — named in honor of Lane’s mother’s family — provides children as well as adults with a safe, relatively quiet suburban oasis where they can relax, play, stroll, picnic and access a lengthy trail system.Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Wendy and Mark Gibson and their children, Ben, 8, and Emma, 11, pose for a picture with Colleen Lane and her daughter-in-law Kathy Fulton before the grand opening of THPRD's Hansen Ridge Park. The Gibsons bought the farmhouse once owned by Lane's grandparents, Harry and Ida Hansen.

A grand opening event for the 6.5-acre park along Northwest Kaiser Road, whose entrance is at 4075 N.W. 147th Ave., held on a steamy Tuesday evening attracted well over 100 neighbors, visitors and park district officials. Several relatives of the Hansen family came to see how the property just east of the old four-story farmhouse was preserved for public enjoyment.

“What an honor this is for our family,” Lane said to the crowd just before the ceremonial ribbon cutting at the park’s entrance. “My mother and uncle were raised across the street when this was all farmland. To see what’s become of it is wonderful.”

Lane’s uncle John, who lives in Dallas, Ore., had planned to make the ceremony. Sadly, however, Ruth, his wife of 76 years, passed away on Sunday.

“He was thrilled to know the park was named after his family,” said Wendy Gibson, who lives in the old Hansen farmhouse with her husband, Mark. “They have such a neat family history. We wanted to know about them. They called us honorary family members for our interest in the house.”

Bob Scott, a member of the park district’s board of directors, explained how the board was convinced to change the proposed park’s name from Kaiser Ridge to Hansen Ridge Park to honor the 19th century pioneer family’s legacy.

“The property we’re on has a very rich history as a large family dairy from the late 1900s to the middle of the 20th century,” he said. “In 2008, board members voted to change Kaiser Ridge to Hansen Ridge.”

Work on the park, which includes an array of playground equipment, a walking trail, open grass areas, clusters of tall trees and native plants, and several picnic tables and benches, began in July 2013. The park, which by next year will provide an entrance to the Westside Regional Trail system, unofficially opened in January. Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Cora Hood, 7, jumps rope for the first time with help from her dad, Luke, and her brother, Alton, 5, during the grand opening of Hansen Ridge Park.

“We hope you like it,” Scott told the crowd. “We’re very pleased with how it turned out.”

Julia, a nearby resident who didn’t want her last name printed, said she’s looked forward to the park ever since work started last summer.

“It’s great for community building and supporting your neighbors,” she said of the spot. “Most importantly, it provides recreation and gets everybody out and moving.”

One thing that concerns her as she walks by the park, is the need for a safe way to cross Kaiser Road to the neighborhoods around the old Hansen homestead.

“I walk past here every day, and there’s always people here,” Julia said. “I think a crosswalk would really help. People need a safe way to cross the street.”Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Families, area residents and special guests gathered in Bethany on Tuesday evening for the grand opening of THPRD's Hansen Ridge Park on Northwest Kaiser Road.

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