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Crews are in the early stages of building the sprawling complex off Corrine Drive

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Equipment operators from The Saunders Company excavate the land that will become the nine-acre Friends Park near Corrine Drive.

The sound of trucks and construction equipment is echoing through a neighborhood in southern Newberg – an indication that work has begun on the Chehalem Park and Recreation District's largest ongoing project.

Ground broke at Friends Park last week as crews began excavating the nine-acre lot near Corrine Drive. Work to come in the next few weeks includes installing water lines, carving out walking paths and installing an irrigation system. A local contractor has donated all of the work currently underway.

This is the first of several steps as the park develops into a gem for the surrounding neighborhood. Julie Firth, a member of the park's committee, said she has been impressed so far.

"I've actually been amazed at how much they've gotten done in such a short time," she said. "I've been going down to that field since before I moved in, knowing that at some point it was going to become a park."

There is a palpable buzz around the neighborhood about the park, Firth said. The next steps of the project – expected to continue through the fall and winter – are the installation of a playground and basketball court, along with planting of the grass for the large field.

The project was funded in large part by a $287,000 Oregon Park & Recreation District grant received in November, along with the matching contribution from an anonymous contractor. The remainder of the $700,000 budget will be paid for by the CPRD, with minimal impact on the taxpayer.

The lack of major need for taxpayer money is a big reason why the project has received so much support, Firth said. The surrounding neighborhood is filled with families ready to have picnics at the park and send their kids out to play.

"After speaking with a lot of the neighbors, everybody is just excited because it's going to be a place where we can get together and do community events," Firth said. "Some of us are already talking about doing an Easter egg hunt next spring. We look forward to having a lot to do there."

The park committee will meet at 6 p.m. Sept. 4 at the CPRD administration office. Anyone who is interested on an update about the park is encouraged to attend the meeting.


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