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News / Clark County News

There is no plan to sell Cougar Creek Woods park in Felida, says official

Residents have been concerned for park’s future

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 21, 2024, 6:07am
3 Photos
Survey flags placed by Clark County Public Works crews at Cougar Creek Woods Community Park sparked concerns among neighbors abut what the county is planning for the property.
Survey flags placed by Clark County Public Works crews at Cougar Creek Woods Community Park sparked concerns among neighbors abut what the county is planning for the property. (Photos by Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

When crews from Clark County Public Works recently began placing survey flags along the perimeter of Cougar Creek Woods Community Park, some neighbors worried the county was moving forward with an old plan to sell off part of the park for development.

“This space can’t be replaced. Once it is gone, it is gone forever,” Angela Swafford said of the Felida neighborhood park.

Rocky Houston, division manager for the county parks office, said there’s no reason for alarm.

“We have no plans to sell this property, actually the opposite,” Houston said in an email Friday.

Swafford said the residents’ concerns are likely a holdover from earlier county council discussions when the county “quietly announced plans … to sell off half of the park for development.”

Allowing the property to be sold to developers and turned into housing would mean losing “a green space frequented by deer and other wildlife; a place where every spring and throughout the summer, into the fall, the local parents take a mower out and cut a baseball diamond for the neighborhood kids; a place where the kids scream in delight while sledding down a snow-covered knoll,” Swafford said.

In 2009, then-county commissioners Tom Mielke, Steve Stuart and Marc Boldt considered selling some of the property to a developer if it would pay for infrastructure at the park. However, that plan never moved forward for council review and approval.

In 2013, rumors of a possible sale began to swirl again. Early that September, a group of residents came to a council meeting to share their concerns, specifically whether Mielke was behind the potential sale and if he stood to gain financially. Mielke denied the claims.

“I am not a developer. I don’t have money to buy that park. Just thought I would set the record straight so you would know,” Mielke said at the meeting.

Concerns about what the county had planned for the property resurfaced again last year when the parks division put out a call for public comment on its six-year capital improvement plan. The plan includes maintenance and repair projects, enhancements for existing parks and the development of new parks. Among the projects being considered was design and development work for the Cougar Creek Woods Community Park.

Currently, the undeveloped park at 11515 N.W. 16th Ave., consists mostly of a grassy swath, but it connects with the Cougar Creek Greenway, which merges with the Salmon Creek Trail across Northwest 119th Street.

Houston said the capital plan includes updates to the master plan and development of a park at the Cougar Creek Woods site in the near future.

“We have had a survey crew and staff out there to complete a perimeter fence project preparation work and begin survey work for a road frontage project to infill the sidewalk gap,” Houston said. “That project will be done in the next two years.”

More information about the parks capital plan and improvements at Cougar Creek Woods Community Park can be found at https://clark.wa.gov/public-works/clark-county-parks.

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.