Happy Valley is a contract city; in other words, the city contracts with districts to provide services such as fire protection, library and parks. Districts provide economies of scale when the cost is spread out over larger geographic areas. Parks/recreation services in the form of North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District (NCPRD) is no exception. I fully supported joining the district and served on the District Advisory Board (DAB) from 2007 until 2016. The problem is the district never delivered on their promises. Yes, they built Hood View Park. Unfortunately, the park was never finished. Yes, they quickly completed the sports complex and eventually added a children's play area, but there was so many other park amenities promised and then in the end the park was sold. NCPRD promised many things to the city of Happy Valley like trails, community parks, turf fields and a community center that were never delivered. That's why Happy Valley has been attempting to withdraw from the park district.
A jury of Clackamas County residents agreed recently when they found NCPRD in breach of contract, awarding the return of over $18 million to Happy Valley. None of this money will come from the city of Milwaukie or unincorporated areas of NCPRD. In addition, the judge in this case granted Happy Valley interest, totaling over $3 million so far.
Last year, NCPRD had several community meetings to review the issues and take comment, but as a NCPRD resident and former DAB chair, I was blocked from speaking. During a NCPRD Board meeting last March while discussing the reformation of the DAB, County Commissioner Paul Savas said cities should not have representatives on the DAB as they would only represent the interests of the cities. However, Commissioner Savas (who lives in Oak Grove west of I-205) was appointed to the DAB as a voting member representing the citizens east of I-205. NCPRD and the county continue to work against the city and are clearly not going to provide the facilities and services our community deserves or paid for.
I call upon the Board of County Commissioners in their role as the Board of NCPRD to work toward a rapid resolution. If NCPRD and Clackamas County continue to fight Happy Valley by not negotiating in good faith or by appealing the court decision, the interest alone will cost NCPRD residents $2 million a year. You can build some nice parks for $2 million.
Michael Morrow is a former Happy Valley city councilor and member of the Clackamas Parks & Recreation District Advisory Board.
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