Letter to the Editor: Durkee property was intended for walking, running trails



Five years ago, I learned that my father’s favorite cousins donated 34+ acres inherited from their parents, just a mile outside of Battle Ground, as an ideal place for a nature walk. In 1997, Virginia and Dorothy deeded their farmland to Clark County. After the last sister passed away in 2011, the property was quit-claim deeded to Battle Ground. 

In 2019, when I called the Battle Ground city manager, I was directed to work with the parks staff and was told the property wasn’t open due to lack of funds. Later, the council expressed

concerns about public safety. In response, we produced donated trails by Washington Trails Association volunteers, a donated small parking lot, and Clark County Historical Society and Museum added storyboards about the city’s rich farm and dairy history to benefit the schools. Boulders spaced around the parking would prevent driving on the property, and a gate could be locked at dark. The adjacent neighbors living in the Durkee home on five acres would provide neighborhood watch. The Lewis River Rotary would consider park adoption to take care of the mowing. No structures would be built, so no other maintenance would be needed. My goal

was a ribbon cutting during the lifetime of the donor’s children, now in their 80s. The city asked for patience and completed an extensive park, recreation, and open space study in 2021. 

On Dec. 27, 2021, Steve Duh, consultant for Conservation Technix Inc., reported the extensive reach of the study, key results and detailed community survey results in an email to Sam Crummett. From that email, "Nearly all residents (96%) think parks and recreation are important or essential to quality of life in Battle Ground.”

“When asked to rank their priorities for future city investment, residents ranked expanding trails and building new parks on currently undeveloped land as their top two priorities. Respondents to both survey formats ranked acquiring additional land for future parks and expanding recreational programming as their lowest priorities,” according to Duh. "The most popular activities are walking or running (80%) and followed by relaxation (55%). More than three in 10 respondents visited to walk their dog (42%), for fitness activities (41%), to visit a playground (41%), to attend a family gathering or picnic (38%), view wildlife (32%), or ride their bike (30%).”

A Dec. 6, 2023, open house for Durkee park showed a sports complex, extensive outdoor structures and a nature trail as three options. On the survey, "Respondents ranked expanding trails and building new parks on currently undeveloped land as their top two priorities; 36% ranked acquire land for recreation such as such as athletic fields, sport courts and playgrounds as their last priority."

How can a council ignore the adjacent neighbor, the family wishes, the costs and results of an extensive resident survey? Attend the meeting at 6 p.m., Wednesday, May 8, at City Hall and voice your opinion in the public forum before it's too late. 

Susan Tripp


Editor’s Note: The city of Battle Ground’s Parks and Community Engagement (PACE) Board is hosting a public hearing about the Durkee property and three other parks at 4 p.m., Wednesday, May 8, at City Hall Council Chambers, 109 SW First St. After the open house, at 6 p.m., the PACE board will hold a joint meeting with the city’s Planning Commission to develop the preferred alternatives for the four park properties.