The Nadaka Nature Park and Garden Project is an outgrowth of a series of past community and voter initiated efforts that secured public ownership of 10-acres of natural area and the 2-acre neighborhood park site known as the Nelson property located on the border of Wilkes East and Rockwood neighborhoods in Gresham, Oregon.
This 10 acre natural forest area was acquired by the City of Gresham in 1995 at a cost of $500,000 from the Camp Fire Organization using proceeds from the 1990 Gresham parks bond measure. The Camp Fire Organization used it as a day camp beginning in the summer of 1956 until it was sold to the City of Gresham in 1995.
While owned by the Camp Fire Organization, the 10 acres was surrounded by an eight foot chain link fence with barbed wire on top. There were two entry gates, one on NE Pacific at the north side and one at NE Glisan on the south side. There was an easement across 2 acres owned by the T. A. Nelson family on the NE Glisan or south side.
Once the City of Gresham acquired the property in 1995 the gates remained locked to the public until 2001 when the gate on the north side was opened. During those years the City created a 1/4 mile loop trail and installed an irrigation line from NE Glisan.
In 2009 the Wilkes East Neighborhood Association (WENA), Friends of Nadaka, successfully obtained a $200,000 capital Metro Nature in Neighborhoods grant toward the purchase of the 2 acre adjoining Nelson property. The East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District (EMSWCD) contributed $210,000. The seller, the T. A. Nelson Estate, donated the rest of the appraised value – the land was appraised at $615,000 – as a gift valued at approximately $185,000. The Trust for Public Land negotiated the deal.
The 2-acre acquisition opened up needed park access to Rockwood’s younger, more diverse population, doubling the number of residents (to 17,000) within 1-mile walking distance.
As a result of the 2 acre acquisition, the City of Gresham developed a Nelson Property Neighborhood Park Master Plan and Vegetation Plan which were approved by City Council in June of 2010.
In 2011 seventeen community organizations and local governments signed the Nadaka Nature Park and Garden Project Declaration of Cooperation (DOC). The DOC set out the community’s vision and goals to build the nature-based neighborhood park on the Nelson property and manage and operate the entire 12-acres for 5 years. The latter became the Nadaka 2020 Project.