Neighbors, volunteers and community activists, some who have spent years lobbying for the cause, gathered Saturday to officially open and celebrate the county’s newest neighborhood park.
The new park, Sorenson Park, is at Northwest 26th Avenue and Northwest 109th Street — almost between the Felida and Lake Shore neighborhoods, and has been in the works for years.
Construction at the park started in the summer. The county awarded the contract to build the park in June, to Robertson & Olson Construction Inc. of Camas, for $934,700. The company also built Tower Crest Neighborhood Park in the East Minnehaha area.
While construction started recently, the park has been in the works since before the formation of the Greater Clark Parks District and accompanying maintenance levy in 2005.
Since 2003, the Felida Neighborhood Association has been lobbying the parks department and county government for a new park in the area.
The Board of County Commissioners and county Planning Commission gave the park their OK in 2011.
“We’re feeling elated,” neighborhood association President Milada Allen said. “Mission accomplished.”
She said she’s spoken to dozens around the community who are happy the park is opening, their kids especially so.
The design retained a hill for sledding and some trees, but the county added to the 4.8-acre parcel a small playground, benches, picnic tables, a half basketball court, and a nature play area.
“I think the whole park is designed in such an inviting manner,” Allen said.
The county has had some land in the area for close to 30 years, County Parks Manager Bill Bjerke said.
The park is named for the Sorensen family, who owned a large chunk of land that included the current park boundary and used it for agricultural purposes, according to the county.
The family started dividing the land starting in the late 1970s, when they started selling parts of it.
Later, in 2001, the Wiese family sold more space in the area to the county, connecting what was already public land to Northwest 26th Avenue, according to the county.
The Sorenson name was actually a placeholder while the Vancouver and Clark County parks commission polled for names. Of 18 votes cast, most were in favor of just keeping it.
The park’s construction saw one hitch when vandals struck Nov. 10, doing an estimated $10,000 in damage, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
The vandals snapped and uprooted several newly planted trees and shrubs. Those have been repaired and replaced, Bjerke said.
The park is one of 30 other parks built in recent years, since the passage of the Greater Clark Parks District and accompanying maintenance levy in 2005.
The county had money from park impact fees and park use fees built up, Bjerke said, but couldn’t build parks without the ability to fund their upkeep.
The parks district vote provided for that, and, outside of a slowdown during the Great Recession, parks construction in unincorporated urban Clark County has continued steadily.
“We still have six more parks to complete,” Bjerke said. “Four neighborhood and two community parks.”
The four planned neighborhood parks — Kelley Meadows south of Green Meadows Golf Course, Kozy Kamp east of the fairgrounds, Otto Brown in Orchards and the Salmon Creek Community Club — and two larger community parks — Curtin Creek in the Barberton area and Pleasant Valley near Pleasant Valley elementary and middle schools — would finish the Greater Clark Park District’s building projects.
The levy also provided for seven miles of walking trails and new sports fields.
Correction appended: The article originally misstated the intersection near the park.