Perhaps the most endearing example of community support for the Orenco Woods Nature Park in Hillsboro is a local student's drawing of a master plan for the park, rendered carefully in crayon.
The drawing is full and colorful – trees, buildings, and a winding river meticulously outlined, with various features such as "water splashing place," "science tree house," "underground exhibit" and "log climbing" labeled helpfully with arrows.
The drawing is one of many submitted to Hillsboro and Metro by a local elementary school during the park's visioning process.
Orenco Woods Nature Park will be a 30-acre park in central Hillsboro, a project two years in the making whose master plan was enthusiastically sanctioned by the Metro Council Thursday.
Rod Wojtanik, a landscape architect in Metro's Sustainability Center, said the drawings were just one manifestation of the widespread community involvement in planning for the park.
"I've been continuously impressed with the thoughtfulness of this community," Wojtanik said while presenting the park's master plan to the council. "The citizens of Hillsboro truly appreciate that site, and offered meaningful input into the vision."
Wojtanik included the drawing in his presentation of the master plan to the council.
The 42-acres were once the Orenco Woods Golf Club. That was shuttered in 2006 after developers bought the course, hoping to turn it into a subdivision.
Once the Great Recession hit, the property languished, ultimately being turned over to a bank in 2009 before Metro and Hillsboro teamed up to buy the land in 2011. The $4 million for the purchase came from the region's 2006 natural areas bond measure.
Acquisition and restoration of the site will contribute to meeting the bond measure's goals of protecting undeveloped sites in the lower reaches of Rock Creek, which runs through the property.
Additionally, Orenco Woods would provide nearby nature to more than 50,000 Hillsboro residents who live within two miles of the park, Wotjanik said Thursday, meeting another of the bond measure's goals.
Together, Metro and Hillsboro are selling 11 acres on the southeast side of the property for development. Proceeds from the $3.4 million sale will be used for park development and restoration on the remainder of the property.
While designing the park, planners tried to understand the stories of the site – past uses, present role, and existing connections that community members have with the land.
Citizens of Hillsboro formed an advisory committee, which clarified goals for the park from public comment and submitted them to landscape architects. The landscape architects then took the desired uses and elements from the community and developed concepts for the park.
The draft master plan that went before the Metro Council included a connection of the Rock Creek Trail, which has bicycle and pedestrian access, as well as several walking trails throughout the site.
Landscape architects also included multiple "environmental stations," providing park patrons opportunities to appreciate different natural features.
Council support for the park plan was unanimous and resounding.
"Mark Twain famously said, 'Buy land, they're not making any more of it,'" said Councilor Sam Chase. "This is just really one of those incredible opportunities."
Councilor Kathryn Harrington, whose district contains Hillsboro and Orenco Woods Nature Park, commended the project for its outstanding community involvement and demonstration of a successful collaboration between jurisdictions.
"I'm glad to hear such pride and ownership in this plan," said Harrington. "By adopting this resolution, we move forward in partnership with Metro, the city, and the community members.
"Now we have a vision, a specific plan to guide the park construction and improve the natural conditions of the site," Harrington said. "It truly is a grand place."