Letter to the Editor: Durkee family wishes for a park should be honored



In 1990, My husband and I bought the Durkee farmhouse on 5 acres bordering the remaining 34+ acres that Dorothy and Virginia inherited from their father, RS Durkee.

I met Dorothy and Virginia when they deeded the land to the county honoring their father’s last wishes for the land to become an environmental park with trails throughout, picnic areas and a playground, a quiet place for all the community to enjoy.

At that time, it was mostly a field that a farmer leased and mowed once a year for hay. I often walked with my grandchildren to the center area that we named the island because it was a pond in winter and in summer the farmer mowed around it as it was too soggy for his tractor. He told me it had a spring under the area that traveled underground to the west and became a tiny waterfall into the canyon on the west of the land.

We’d walk around the borders, down into the ravine to the creek that flows from east to west and then south where it goes under 219th Street. We found where the old swimming hole was that Virginia and Dorothy had told me they swam as children. It had mostly filled with mud over the years, but skunk cabbages bloomed from it beautifully in spring, trillions along the sides and pretty waterfalls at the ends. The canyon at that side is fairly deep with huge fir trees and the ferns taller than my grandchildren.

The county planted a thousand or more trees after they acquired the land leaving the island and some space to the east alone as it is mostly a pond in winter. We made a trail around the level areas with our tractor for many years so folks could walk around. It’s a beautiful piece of land that should be a park for all.

Why the county deeded it to Battle Ground city never made sense because it’s over a mile from city limits. My daughter and husband, Lyla and Bruce Smith, own the farmhouse now and preserve the 5 acres. They have taken care of the beautiful trees, lilacs and rhododendrons that May Durkee planted.

I appeal to all Battle Ground residents and the City Council when I say, please honor the wishes of the Durkee family who deeded the land for RS Durkee’s last wishes. I live in the Durkee farmhouse. I’m 94 and won’t be able to come to the meeting at 4 p.m. May 8 at City Hall but urge all residents to attend and comment as the audience and speak up during the open forum that evening. With your help, I hope to live long enough to see the Durkee wishes honored at least with a start of the park.

Gloria Lindquist

Battle Ground