Fairgrounds park’s phase one is done

Wetlands, landscape leave future unclear for rest of community space

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian Arts & Features Reporter

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A really big park on Clark County’s lengthy parks to-do list just opened for business — more or less.

Actually, it’s most accurate to say that one-third of Fairground Community Park — 29 acres of the total 88-acre property — has been developed and unveiled, with all the usual fixings: playgrounds and basketball half-courts, picnic shelters and walking paths, restrooms and parking lots. Neighbors concerned about accidents and vandalism fought to exclude a small skate spot from the landscape, and park planners relented and pulled it from the plan.

The official long-term plan for Fairgrounds Community Park, at Northwest 164th Street and 11th Avenue, still contains an elaborate build-out of ball fields and bleachers, field house and still more parking. But federally protected wetlands and sloping landscapes have made that vision look pretty unlikely, and the county recently struck a deal with King’s Way Christian School in Hazel Dell to share access and new sports facilities there — including a five-diamond baseball complex as well as football, soccer and lacrosse fields.

What definitely will be added to the undeveloped west side of Fairgrounds Community Park are walking and equestrian trails, county parks spokeswoman Jilayne Jordan said.

Before this, the last huge park added to the county’s portfolio was Hockinson Meadows, with 240 acres containing multiple baseball diamonds — and many more playing fields and sports courts still in store. Pleasant Valley park (40 acres) is expected to get built in 2011 and Curtin Creek park (38.5 acres) in 2012.