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Century Oaks and Butternut Creek parks will open this Saturday. A third park, Reed's Crossing, will be built in 2021

COURTESY PHOTOS - The new Century Oaks Park and Butternut Creek Park in South Hillsboro will open to the public this Saturday. The parks are the first for the massive South Hillsboro neighborhood currently under construction along Tualatin Valley Highway.Hillsboro's two newest parks, both in the new South Hillsboro neighborhood, will officially open this weekend.

City officials will hold grand openings at two new outdoor recreational spaces Saturday, June 22. They are the first parks to be built in South Hillsboro, the largest planned neighborhood in state history.

Jeroen Kok, senior manager at the city's parks and recreation department, said work on the parks began three years ago.

"We laid out a great blueprint for us to make sure we locate and develop parks and trails and recreational amenities as (the neighborhood) is being designed," Kok said.

In most communities, neighborhoods are built first and parks are added later, but Kok said the South Hillsboro development has parks and homes built at the same time.

"It really takes a community partnering with developers to create something like this," Kok said. "If you don't have that partnership and cooperation, the city scrambles to add parks after the fact. That's much less efficient, can end up being more expensive and you may not find the ideal property or location."

When finished two decades from now, South Hillsboro will be home to 20,000 people. The first homes in the area are already for sale.

Rather than wait for neighborhoods to be finished, city staff say, the city is already working on a trio of parks for the neighborhood.

The first of the two parks, Century Oaks Park, at 3800 S.E. 62nd Ave., is tucked behind Rosedale Elementary School. The 5-acre park features several large trees, meandering paths and spots for quiet picnics and relaxation. Natural-themed play areas, such as logs and boulders, will be available for children to climb, and an amphitheater will be available for community performances.

The park includes trails to neighboring Rosedale Elementary, Kok said, so students will be able to walk to and from school.

If Century Oaks is a place for quiet reflection, nearby Butternut Creek Park offers the opposite — with plenty of ways to run, jump and play.

Butternut Creek Park, 7830 S.E. Deline St., stands adjacent to the Bonneville Power Administration corridor, off 209th Avenue and Butternut Creek Parkway. The park, which spans 5 acres, will include a regional trail, a basketball court, a picnic shelter, a playground and an open lawn area. Butternut Creek will also include a "sprayground" — a built-in fountain to cool off in hot summer days. Several Hillsboro parks, as well as the Hillsboro Civic Center Plaza, have fountains.

"We have a large central turf area for kids to kick a soccer ball, fly a kite, you name it," Kok said. "There is lots of flexibility in that area."

The city plans to build a small dog park next to the park in the next few years, Kok said. The off-leash dog park will be similar to Cornell Creek Park, a small dog park in Hillsboro's Orenco neighborhood built largely for local residents, not the community at large.

"Because of the density and the small lots in the neighborhoods, we wanted to offer a place for people to take their pets and run and play," Kok said. "But we don't want to make it so attractive that people come from far and wide."

Time for the Century Oaks Park ceremony is 11 a.m. The ceremony celebrating Butternut Creek Park will take place at 1 p.m.

The parks' grand openings will include speeches from local officials and property developers who helped make the projects possible.

A third park, Reed's Crossing Neighborhood Park, will be built in 2021. The park will be located next to land slotted for a future elementary school. According to the city, Reed's Crossing park will include a playground, picnic area, small skate park and bocce ball court.

"We're really excited to have these first two parks wrapped up," Kok said. "Now, as people move in, there'll park right there ready to go."

By Geoff Pursinger
Editor, Hillsboro Tribune
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