A piece of property once the subject of a controversial bridge project is now the newest addition to the Tigard park system.

Known as the “Fields property,” the 25 acres of woodland and open field have long been associated with a troubled bridge that neighbors and environmental advocates say would have damaged a nearby wetland.

Times have changed. On Oct. 4, community leaders met behind the Tigard Public Library to raise a glass in celebration as the land was added into Tigard’s Fanno Creek Park that runs from Main Street to Hall Boulevard.

The addition effectively doubles the park’s size.

“This is a legacy to the city that will last forever, for as long as the city exists,” Tigard Mayor Craig Dirksen told the crowd.

The city purchased the 25.69-acre parcel in July from the estate of philanthropist and manufacturer Fred Fields, who died in 2011.

Fields’ estate sold the land to the city and Metro, the regional government, for $5.15 million.

Tigard’s $2 million share of the price tag is paid for, in part, by the city’s $17 million parks bond passed by voters in 2010.

Dirksen for years said the city should buy the property, but its hefty price tag kept the city from moving ahead with the deal.

Metro Councilor Carl Hosticka, who represents the Tigard area, said the land could not have been purchased without help from voters who passed Tigard’s bond measure in 2010 and a similar Metro bond measure in 2006.

“These dreams don’t come true unless the people work very hard,” he said. “The people that really made this happen are the voters ... People might say that Metro and Tigard own this land, but that’s not true. We all own it.”

Hosticka called the purchase a treasure for the community.

“This is a jewel that will continue to grow brighter and brighter,” Dirksen added.

The property has been a source of controversy over the years.

Fields, who owned the property for decades, hoped to sell the land to developers and submitted several proposals to the city to build a bridge across sensitive wetland near the library to access the land. The plan angered neighbors and environmental advocates who said the wetland would be damaged by the work.

Neighbors and state and local officials said the sensitive wetland would be damaged by extending the road.

The city’s purchase of the property put an end to those plans. Now the land will make Fanno Creek Park the “centerpiece of Tigard’s park system,” Dirksen said.

“It is impossible to express the excitement I feel in bringing this piece of property in and making it a part of Fanno Creek Park,” Dirksen said.

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