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Cedar Mill News
Volume 3, Issue 12


December 2005

Merritt Orchard Park

By Virginia Bruce, editor

East entrance to park on Washington Street

Tucked away behind some houses between Leahy and Barnes, Merritt Orchard Park has been easy to ignore. When developer Robert Randall Company finished the Merritt Orchard subdivision in 1990, the 1.9-acre site was donated to the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District (THPRD). It’s typical of the parcels that the district used to accept from developers – small, steep and largely unusable because the buffer area around Johnson Creek (required by Clean Water Services), which runs through it, takes up most of the space in the park (see figure 1). Included in the park property are two 10-foot access strips that lead to Washington Street.

But now Renaissance Homes is finishing the Peterkort Woods subdivision across the stream, and an 8-foot wide ADA accessible trail is being built which will run from Cedar Hills Blvd. behind the development and then cross Johnson Creek and connect to Washington Street. A connecting soft-surface path will wind through the park (see figure 2). Renaissance Homes and Trammell Crow Residential are paying $1.6 million for the design and construction of most of the trail network.

The new trail winds behind the Peterkort Woods townhomes

This is the first segment of a planned trail that will eventually run along Johnson Creek through the rest of the Peterkort development and connect with the Teufel development. Washington County’s Cedar Hills/Cedar Mill Community Plan calls for trail connections throughout the vicinity of the Sunset Transit Center. THPRD normally doesn’t condemn land proactively to create these trails; Washington County in most cases requires the developers to work with THPRD on providing trail connectivity which usually results in them paying for the construction of trail segments as part of the Park District’s System Development Charge program.

Tiny Merritt Orchard Park made news recently when property owner Tom Posey attempted to contest the eight-foot hard-surface trail which will run along the back and east side of his property. He lives adjacent to one of the 10-foot access strips, and has been using district property as part of his yard during the 14 years that he’s been living there. He claims that he didn’t realize that it was park district land. He asked the THPRD board to substitute a five-foot path that would allow him to keep some of his planting.
Park Planner Steve Gulgren explained that the full eight feet are needed, however, both to satisfy Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) trail requirements, and to allow district vehicles to access the park for maintenance. The THPRD board denied Posey’s request but board president Bruce Dalrymple asked Gulgren to see if the trail could be moved a little farther from the rear of Posey’s property.

Encroachment, where park neighbors use park property, is common throughout THPRD. Some forms of encroachment, such as compatible planting, are acceptable and won’t result in district action. But when homeowners’ use of park property interferes with public use or threatens public safety, the district informs the property owner and requests removal of the encroaching material within 90 days. Posey received a 90-day extension at the November 7 board meeting, and must have the area cleared by February 6, 2006.

Encroachments include lawns, play equipment

Encroachments on Merritt Orchard Park include fences, lawns, sports courts, play structures, garden sheds, treehouses and ornamental plantings. THPRD Superintendent of Security Operations Gary Dodson explains, “Even though a date has not been set for construction on the soft trail, we have asked all the homeowners to remove all physical encroachment structures and to clear both access entries to the park of all encroachments. The District has allowed plants and vegetation to remain for the time being until the trail is constructed. Removal of plants and vegetation will occur at that time.”




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The Cedar Mill News
Published monthly by the Cedar Mill Business Association, Inc.,
P.O. Box 91177
Portland, OR 97291-0177

Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
12110 NW West Rd
Portland, OR 97229