HAPPY VALLEY, OR — Mayor Lori DeRemer and the Happy Valley City Council on Monday filed a complaint with the Clackamas County Circuit Court requesting the county return to the city funds invested for Happy Valley parks that were never constructed.

According to city officials, Happy Valley invested more than $17 million over its 12-year relationship with the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District (NCPRD) but has nothing to show for it. As a result, the Happy Valley City Council in June voted to withdraw from the NCPRD in order to establish its own parks and recreation agency.

Since its withdrawal, Happy Valley has reportedly tried to negotiate the return of most of that $17 million, which the city would ostensibly use to complete the parks projects never addressed by the NCPRD. However, Clackamas County Administrator Don Krupp contends that Happy Valley “is seeking a disproportionate share of park district assets without any supporting legal basis or justification.”

“Happy Valley made the decision in June to withdraw from the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District. Since that time, NCPRD has continued to operate in good faith and pursue a negotiated equitable division of assets as required by state statute,” Krupp said in the county’s official statement. “Unfortunately those negotiations were not successful.”

Happy Valley joined the NCPRD in 2005 with voters’ approval.

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“We had hoped our withdrawal from NCPRD could remain amicable and we are disappointed the terms of the agreement couldn’t have been settled out of court,” DeRemer said in a statement. “Despite this unexpected hurdle, the city is excited to become the parks and recreation provider in Happy Valley. We collected feedback from residents throughout the summer and that input is now being used to develop a Parks Master Plan and evaluate new recreation programs.”

According to the lawsuit, four parks projects were promised: A new community park and community center, re-turfed soccer fields, and completion of a new Scott Creek hiking trail.

“Agreeing to their proposal would significantly overburden the district and would not be fair to the 100,000 residents outside of Happy Valley who are served by NCPRD,” Krupp said. “Rather than continue to engage in this constructive effort to reach a fair and equitable division of assets, Happy Valley has chosen to file this legal action, which is based on inaccurate representations of fact and a misguided perception that the city is owed more than authorized by law.”

Happy Valley reportedly sent more than $13 million in system development charges to the NCPRD, which it was reportedly supposed to go into an account for the four named park projects. The lawsuit contends that account was never created; Krupp maintains the NCPRD followed the law.

“NCPRD is, and has been, in full compliance with the spirit and letter of its agreement with Happy Valley and has worked diligently to meet the needs of residents and city leadership,” he said. “The district will aggressively defend this legal action and will continue to promote and protect the best interests of NCPRD.”

Image: City of Happy Valley

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