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State grant makes park dreams a reality

Nadaka Nature Park, through a partnership with Gresham, is awarded a $523,000 grant for park improvements


by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Gresham resident Jose Villa walks the loop trail at Nadaka Nature Park on Wednesday, July 31.The state has awarded a $523,000 grant to fund improvements at Nadaka Nature Park in Gresham’s Wilkes East neighborhood.

"It is unbelievable," said Lee Dayfieid, who cried, laughed and screamed when she heard the news last week that the park, through its partnership with the city of Gresham, won the $523,480 grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

The money means that the little-known and once-neglected forested area in the middle of the city can become a full-blown neighborhood park complete with community gardens, a nature-based play area, picnic shelter and improved walking trail.

Gresham city councilors in March approved applying for the state grant, requesting $550,000 for park improvements.

As a nonprofit agency, the Friends of Nadaka were unable to apply for the grant because it is considered a local government grant, said Dayfield, who has spearheaded the grassroots effort to improve and expand the park.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - A recently awarded state grant will fund improvements such as a nature-based play area, community gardens, fruit trees, berry bushes, restroom and picnic shelter.  Nadaka Nature Park was used as a Camp Fire Girls day camp from 1956 to 1995, when the city of Gresham bought the 10 heavily forested acres as a natural area. It sat unused, surrounded by a barbed-wire topped fence, until 2001, when a gate on the north side of the property off Northeast Pacific Street was opened. The city created a half-mile loop trail, but with such limited accessibility, few residents knew about it.

In 2009, with grant funding from Metro and East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, the Friends of Nadaka purchased 2 acres that abut the park to the south, called the Nelson property. Purchasing the property, located east of St. Aiden’s Episcopal Church, allowed the public to access the park from Glisan Street.by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Grant dollars from Metro regional government and East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District allowed the park to expand to include 2 acres linking the natural area to the north to Glisan Street to the south.

A master plan for the 2 acres — which are not nearly as woodsy as the rest of Nadaka — calls for creation of a park with community gardens, a children’s nature-based play area, open space and other amenities.

"It is pretty amazing," Dayfield said. "Now we can really start to see things happen."

The news comes just as the nonprofit organization is poised to host its third community annual festival on Saturday.

Those who use the park also are thrilled by the prospect of the park becoming a destination for children and families.

Nearby resident Savannah Fennern, 20, uses the park to cut through to Glisan Street to the south, but never uses it at night because of the "stoners, druggies and transients" who sometimes hang out there. Although she objects to tax dollars funding the park improvements, she hopes they make the area better. "It's a pretty bad neighborhood as it is," she said.by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Gresham resident Thelma Brown, who enjoyed a picnic lunch at the natural area, said the park improvements will make it more appealing to children and families in the area.

Another local resident, Thelma Brown, stopped by the park for a picnic on Wednesday with her husband, Douglas Williams, and their yellow lab/Chinese Shari-pei mix, Harley. It was the first time they'd been there, and with no picnic table on site, they settled onto a bench to eat.

"I think it would work out good for the neighborhood," Brown said. "There aren't many parks around here. And families need an area to get together, have a picnic and allow the kids to play and enjoy themselves."

If you go

What: Third annual Nadaka Community Festival.

When: Saturday, Aug. 3. Cleanup party removing invasive species, trash and adding mulch along the newly placed boulders along Northeast Glisan Street is from 9 a.m. to noon, followed by a party until 3 p.m.

Where: Nadaka Nature Park, on the 2-acre parcel at Northeast 175th Avenue and Glisan. Parking is at St. Aidan's Episcopal Church or on Northeast Pacific Street at 175th Avenue.

Details: Free hotdogs and drinks, face painting, live music by steel drummers Terry Baber and Brad Hirsch, games and fun. All while celebrating a $523,480 state grant to create community gardens, a picnic shelter and more at the site.



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  • 2 Oct 2014

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