Bill is building Quinn and Emmy Potter a park.
At least that’s what Kelsey and Kyle Potter’s 3-year-old twin girls will tell you about the empty lot not far from their home.
The Bill in these girls’ explanation of government at work is Clark County Parks Manager Bill Bjerke, and the lot in question is Sorenson Park, one of two parks the county is developing over the course of the coming months.
Last week, County Manager Mark McCauley awarded a $934,700 contract to Robertson & Olson Construction of Camas to build Sorenson Neighborhood Park in the Felida area and Tower Crest Neighborhood Park in the East Minnehaha area. Construction will begin this month and should be completed before fall, according to a county news release.
It’s something the Potters have been looking forward to since before their daughters were born; they bought their home within walking distance of the site six years ago knowing it would someday be developed into a park. They’ve since been testifying to the Clark County Council — their girls in tow — about prioritizing the park’s construction.
“This will be a little living room in everyone’s back yard,” Kelsey Potter said.
The landmark has been a long time coming for the county. Bjerke said the county has owned these properties for years with the intention of constructing parks. In the case of Tower Crest Neighborhood Park, the county purchased the property nearly 30 years ago.
“We’ve had that property sitting there for quite some time,” Bjerke said. “We’re really excited to see that one turned into an actual neighborhood park.”
Sorenson Neighborhood Park is on a 4.8-acre parcel on Northwest 26th Avenue at 109th Street. The finished park will include playground equipment and a basketball half court.
Tower Crest Neighborhood Park will span a 2.9-acre site south of Northeast 54th Street at 63rd Avenue. The forested park will include a paved walking trail, playground equipment and habitat improvements for wildlife.
Both are designed so people who live nearby can walk or bike to the parks. Parking lots and bathrooms, therefore, are not included at either development.
“It’s what (neighbors) want,” Bjerke said. “It’s what they’ve told us: ‘We want to be able to walk to a park. We want a neighborhood park that our children can run to.’ We’ve heard that over the years.”
The development brings Clark County two parks closer to meeting the goals for the voter-approved Greater Clark Parks District.
In 2005, voters approved a tax levy providing money for the maintenance and construction of 30 neighborhood parks, five new community parks, seven miles of walking trails and new sports fields.
It’s clear, according to Public Works spokesman Jeff Mize, that paying for parks is a priority for Clark County residents.
“Communities build parks, and parks build communities,” Mize said.
Project Manager Scot Brantley called Sorenson and Tower Crest parks “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to development. The remaining parks have challenges such as wetlands that likely will make development more difficult and costly, he said.
“Some of these parks were dirt-ready,” Brantley said.
Clark County has to build four more neighborhood parks — Kelley Meadows, Kozy Kamp, Otto Brown and Salmon Creek Community Club — and two community parks — Curtin Creek and Pleasant Valley — to complete the Greater Clark Parks District projects.