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Two South Hillsboro Parks Set the Stage for Great Neighborhoods
Two new parks in South Hillsboro open as the the City's newest, and largest neighborhood takes shape.
South Hillsboro, the City’s newest, largest neighborhood is taking shape. New apartments, townhomes, and single-family houses rise on over 1400 acres of former farmland. The first residents begin to settle in while construction continues all around them.
The massive development will take years to complete, but present and future arrivals won’t have to wait that long for amenities. Thanks to unique partnership between developers, land owners and the City of Hillsboro they can enjoy two neighborhood parks right now.
Parks are usually an afterthought, put in after home building stops and developers move on to their next project. This project, driven by the City’s South Hillsboro Community Plan, takes a different approach. “The idea is to create a full park and recreation system as the community develops,” explains Jeroen Kok, planning and development manager, Hillsboro Parks and Recreation Department.
Flipping the script required an unusual level of cooperation. “Typically, developers and landowners compete against each other,” explains developer Joe Hanauer, Hagg Lane, LLC. “Here we all worked closely with the City around a single vision. The result will be a total community that’s complete, connected and green”
Mike Morse, regional project director for Pahlisch Homes, agrees. “Developers put in homes and infrastructure,” he says. “Building parks of this size takes a village and we had the right village of people to make it happen.”
The two new parks, Century Oaks Park and Butternut Creek Park, are the first of seven planned neighborhood parks for South Hillsboro. Both parks are five acres, but each has its own characteristics, amenities and flavor specific to their location.
Butternut Creek Park
Butternut Creek Park features a circle of turf ringed by a paved walkway and amenities like a basketball court, picnic shelter, playground and small splash pad. “I love that the entire park is set in a circle,” says Hanauer. “It suggests the completeness of the community.”
The park’s shape and layout encourage a variety of activities from walking the path to playing and relaxing on the central lawn. Families can use different parts of the park and always stay in visual connection. Multiple entry points invite patrons to use the entire space and not isolate themselves to just one corner of the park.
Future amenities, including a small dog park, bike skills course and fitness stations, are planned for the adjacent powerline corridor.
The results are very satisfying for developer Hanauer, who’s been working on South Hillsboro’s development for nearly three decades. “It’s one thing to see houses go up, it’s another to see public spaces,” he explains. “Public spaces and amenities make the community. To see them come to fruition, well that is pretty darn exciting.”
Century Oaks Park
Mostly open farmland, South Hillsboro has very few significant stands of trees. Preserving these living resources was a priority in creating Century Oaks Park. Set on five acres filled with native firs and Oregon White Oaks, the park offers a unique setting for learning, play and reflection.
“I knew it would make a nice park,” says landowner Marianne Kandel. She and her husband bought the property in 1977, built a house and raised a family. Her connection to the land remains strong, but when development started, Kandel realized this was her chance to save the trees.
She sold the property with the caveat that the parcel become a public park and that it stays as natural as possible. In answer the City and developers used a light touch, clearing only as needed and prioritizing the remaining trees when adding amenities like the path system.
“Usually you excavate down to create paths but that damages root systems,” explains Kok. “At Century Oaks Park we built up.”
“We had a lot of expert eyes on the plans from engineers to arborists to make sure we didn’t damage the trees,” adds Morse. “It’s an unusual approach.”
Adjacent to Rosedale Elementary School, the park includes an outdoor classroom area with benches. Lighting encourages walking to and from school even in the dark winter months. Lawns, a picnic shelter and several areas designed for nature play round out the offerings.
Kandel recalls that the decision was difficult but is happy with how Century Oaks Park turned out. “I was really struck by the sightlines,” she says. “I’ve seen things I never could before. It is just beautiful to experience it in this way.”
Notice for Century Oaks Park and Butternut Creek Park – South Hillsboro
The City and its partners Pahlisch Homes and Hagg Lane LLC celebrated the openings of Century Oaks Park and Butternut Creek Park on June 22. The public was invited to the event and many people learned about the unique partnership that brought these parks to fruition.
While the City and the developers work through a few remaining items to complete the final elements, and then transfer the parks to the City, the parks will remain open. However, because the parks are not yet in the City’s possession, the restrooms at both parks will remain closed, and the spray ground at Butternut Creek Park will remain off. The City and the developers hope to complete the final phases of work and transfer in the coming weeks. We will provide updated information as it becomes available and appreciate the public's patience during this transition period.