Last night, the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, acting as the Board of Directors for the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District (NCPRD), and the Happy Valley City Council approved a settlement agreement that resolves a two-year legal dispute over parks and recreation services.
The agreement calls for both jurisdictions to collaboratively develop and support legislation that would remove Happy Valley from NCPRD in exchange for dropping all legal claims.
Not only does this settlement provide certainty, it allows both parties to turn the page and focus on building new parks and providing great recreation programs and services to their respective residents.
“I strongly believe the settlement agreement is fair and benefits both parties,” said Mayor Tom Ellis. “The City Council and I are excited to use the funds to build new parks in our community. We are committed to ensuring all parks will be open to everyone, including those who are outside the City and residents of NCPRD. We’re grateful for the programs NCPRD provided our residents for more than a decade and look forward to more directly providing parks and recreation services to Happy Valley.”
“This settlement brings needed certainty to present and future planning for services and operations for the district,” said County Chair Jim Bernard. “We look forward to helping the City be successful during this transition and are excited to focus our efforts on the great work NCPRD has started in the other parts of the district.”
The settlement agreement is contingent on successfully passing legislation during the 2020 legislative session that will withdraw Happy Valley from NCPRD and allow the City to become its own parks and recreation provider.
Once the withdrawal is formalized, the resulting district boundaries will remain intact. This will ensure that NCPRD does not lose potential tax revenue if the city expands and annexes more district territory in the future.
Specifically, the agreement includes:
- Clackamas County and Happy Valley will jointly develop and support legislation in the 2020 legislative session that will withdraw Happy Valley from the district and allow the City to become its own parks and recreation provider.
- Payment of $14.3 million to City of Happy Valley. The funds for this payment will come from development fees generated in Happy Valley as well as a portion of the Hood View Park sale proceeds.
- Transfer of the following parks to City of Happy Valley, relieving NCPRD of ongoing maintenance and management costs:
- Southern Lites
- Village Green
- Ashley Meadows
- District-owned properties adjacent to Mt. Talbert
- Hidden Falls
- Mt. Scott Creek Trail
- Agreement from City not to withdraw properties currently inside NCPRD boundaries if or when they annex to Happy Valley.
Finally, the agreement ends several years of uncertainty and potential risks for both parties in ongoing litigation.
State Representatives Janelle Bynum and Mark Meek were instrumental in recent negotiations, not just for their support of the legislation necessary to implement the agreement, but also for their commitment to our shared constituents and knowledge of the community. Both parties would like to thank them for helping to resolve this matter.
“I’m thrilled to have helped bring the parties together to end this ongoing dispute, which will enable Happy Valley to establish an independent parks program and allow our local jurisdictions to move forward on other community priorities,” said Rep. Bynum. “I look forward to championing the legislation necessary to finalize this settlement agreement.”
“I am happy to have played a role in settling this issue in a way that protects the services and programs for all NCPRD residents,” said Rep. Meek.
The City and NCPRD are looking forward to improving parks and recreation services for their respective residents. NCPRD can now focus its resources on important projects such as Milwaukie Bay Park and the future development of the Concord, Wichita and Clackamas elementary schools.
Likewise, Happy Valley recently completed a Parks and Recreation Master Plan that includes development of a new community park, future community center, all-weather turf fields at Happy Valley Park, and new trails.