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Sept. 20, 2021

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New North Image neighborhood park a long time coming

Dinosaur-themed park welcomed with fanfare

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
5 Photos
At right, kids run through a field Thursd ay at a park in Vancouver's North Image neighborhood. The new park at Northeast 52nd Street and 137th Avenue hosted Party in the Parks, which featured live music, games and informative booths.
At right, kids run through a field Thursd ay at a park in Vancouver's North Image neighborhood. The new park at Northeast 52nd Street and 137th Avenue hosted Party in the Parks, which featured live music, games and informative booths. (Photos by Joshua Hart/ The Columbian) Photo Gallery

It would be an exaggeration to say the Vancouver park located in the North Image neighborhood is the city’s first new community park since the Jurassic period. But to be fair, it has been a while — around 20 years, according to Vancouver Communications Director Cara Rene, since the city unveiled a brand new park for its residents.

Which might have something to do with the celebratory atmosphere at the massive ribbon-cutting shindig Thursday evening.

Approximately 200 people showed up to the 5.56 acre park to try out the new dinosaur-themed play structure, dig for “fossils” in a sand pit and listen to live music from the Minidoka Swing Band. The event, sponsored by iQ Credit Union, also featured attractions for partygoers of all ages, including a parachute, giant Jenga set and cornhole.

Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle mingled with the crowd, soaking up the late-afternoon summer sun while the band played the Frank Sinatra classic “Luck Be A Lady.”

“It is so exciting, truly it is, and the children have been excited. They watched it be developed,” McEnerny-Ogle said.

Completion of the as-yet-unnamed park was a long time coming. The city acquired the parcel of land at the corner of Northeast 52nd Street and 137th Avenue in two stages — part in 2001 and part in 2010.

In conjunction with the North Image Neighborhood Association, city staffers with the Parks and Recreation department picked the dinosaur theme and finalized a master plan in 2018.

Including the purchase price and development, the total cost was $2.4 million, paid through Park Impact Fees.

“Land is becoming, as you know, very precious,” McEnerny-Ogle said. “This is a great chunk.”

Party in the Parks

Sharon Turk, a Vancouver management analyst and neighborhood liaison for North Image, enjoyed the celebration Thursday evening with her 3-year-old grandson, Taven.

Taven, as he explained breathlessly, spent his time wisely.

“I was going in the sandbox and looking for friends,” he said. “I saw a baby dinosaur tail.”

How big was it? He stretched his hands out as wide as he could go. (Whoa. That’s pretty big.)

This summer, the city is hosting a total of 16 Party in the Parks events at eight different parks across Vancouver, according to Melody Burton, spokeswoman for the Parks and Recreation department.

Eight more are upcoming. For a schedule, visit cityofvancouver.us/ParkParty.

Help pick a name

Now that the park is complete, the next step is to give it a name that honors its history. Recreation Program Manager Dave Perlick explained that the plot of land had once been used as a gathering place for Japanese-Americans and their families.

In the 1920s and 1930s, small truck farmers distributed produce to Vancouver’s grocery stores and markets. Nearly half of those farmers were Japanese-Americans and many grew their food in the North Image neighborhood. Internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II effectively tore that culture apart.

Now, the city is asking residents to help pick between three names that acknowledges and honors that history: Nikkei Park, for the term used to describe Japanese emigrants and their descendants; Nisei Park, for the second-generation Japanese-Americans born in the United States; or Nochi Park, after the Japanese word for farms.

Residents can vote at cityofvancouver.us/parkname.

Columbian staff writer
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