Durkee Park likely to become trail system after meeting


After heavy backlash from neighbors, City of Battle Ground advisory boards revised a plan to turn a 35-acre park property into nature trails instead of a sports complex.

Battle Ground’s Parks and Community Engagement (PACE) board and Planning Commission will present a plan for four different park properties at a future City Council meeting.

Consultants and advisory board members initially recommended the Durkee Park property, one mile east of city limits, become a sports center complex, but 12 attendants who spoke during an open house Wednesday, May 8, opposed that alternative. Most said that plan went against the wishes of the property’s donors.

Dorothy and Virginia Durkee, the land’s previous owners, deeded the land to Clark County in 1997, asking it to become a nature trail park. The property was later granted to Battle Ground. Instead of a trail network, the plan presented last week included four baseball and softball fields, three sports courts for tennis or pickleball and a basketball court area.

Susan Tripp, a distant relative of the Durkees, argued against the plan, stating it went against the wishes of the donors, who have since passed away. Tripp told the Reflector before the meeting that the only access point for the property, Northeast 219th Street, has cars traveling too fast and would create a safety issue for an overused sports complex. Tripp told the advisory board members that a trails plan for the park should move forward and allow the donors’ children, who are over 80 years of age, to see their vision.

“I’m sure there’s not enough public safety budget for Battle Ground to handle that. So we just don’t think it’s the right location [for a sports complex],” she said.

Although the park is not open to the public, Tripp and other Durkee neighbors have maintained the property over the years. Debra Brown, a neighbor living north of the property, was shocked to see a sports complex being proposed. Brown said the roads are too narrow and unsafe for a sports complex.

“You’re also talking about lighting … You’ve got neighbors bordering it. I can’t even imagine what that would mean and also for the wildlife,” Brown said.

Consultants from MIG, a group working with the city on the four park property plans, said the sports complex was proposed based on feedback from previous open houses hosted by the city.

Although the plan does not include the projected costs, a sports complex on Durkee property is expected to be expensive. Tina Brooks, a PACE board member, said the Durkee property’s terrain is not flat enough to accommodate sports fields, adding to the cost of labor.

“You’re gonna be digging into the hill to make it possible,” Brooks explained.

In their subsequent joint meeting, the PACE and Planning Commission voted unanimously to revise their plan, which will be sent to council for approval. The plan for the Durkee property involves a network of trails, lookout points, benches and picnic tables. Tripp, who spoke alongside 11 family members and property neighbors, said she was grateful the board decided to follow the donor’s wishes.

“The concept is what the family wanted. It’s what the neighbors wanted. The PACE board and Planning Commission being unanimous is very encouraging,” Tripp said.

Fairgrounds Park and the future of ballfields

Currently, the 35-acre Durkee property is the only city-owned park land where new ballfields can be added due to the space required. Five ballfields used by the Battle Ground Little League are currently located on Fairgrounds Park, one of the four parks under consideration for future plans. The PACE and Planning Commision boards voted unanimously to recommend removing the ballfields in favor of sports courts, trails and an arboretum, turning Fairgrounds into an active-play focused park. The site’s skate park and community center will remain should the plan be approved. Under the advisory board’s recommendation, the project cannot break ground until new land for ballfields is acquired by the city.

Battle Ground Little League board member Josh Lapierre said he did not care where the new ballfields were placed, so long as their members had a place to play.

“We have 300-plus families that are involved in Madden Little League now, and that’s almost doubled from what we had coming back from COVID,” Lapierre said.

Battle Ground Mayor Troy McCoy, who attended the open house, said he will vote to ensure a plan removing the ballfields is approved only when a new location is made available.

Plans for the undeveloped Gardner Oaks and Remy park properties, located east and west of the Walmart Supercenter respectively, were approved to send to the Council.

The 13-acre Gardner Oaks preferred plan includes:

• A nine-hole disc golf course

• Open lawn areas

• Bridge crossings for the on-site wetland drainage channel

• A parking lot on the west side of the park.

• A nature-themed playground

Picnic areas

The 4.5-acre Remy Park preferred plan includes:

• A parking lot bordering Southwest 20th Avenue

• An additional parking lot bordering Southwest Scotton Way

• A dog park

• Outdoor fitness stations

• Native plant demonstration areas

• An open lawn and informal sports field

• Two active play areas for children, including waterworks

The City Council will vote to either amend or approve the four park plans in a future meeting.