In 1749, a young Virginian used his family connections to secure the position of official surveyor for Culpeper County. The 17-year-old was paid well enough to purchase land in the Shenandoah Valley and launch himself on his way to greatness.
No other surveyor is likely to chart a resumé like George Washington’s. Still, it’s a good field to enter, and a handful of Umpqua Community College engineering students seeking related experience got the lay of the land last week at Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park near Oakland.
The students were happy to get the opportunity, but they weren’t the sole beneficiaries of their work. Nor do their responsibilities stop at surveying. By the time the five of them graduate in June, they will have plotted out a campground and designed a water system connected to a ready water supply. They will have made room for an equestrian as well as a non-equestrian area. They will have devised a plan to widen the entrance road by 24 feet to meet safety codes. They will also have saved $15,000 to $20,000 in engineering fees, according to Douglas County Parks Director Gary Groth.
After a long and rocky wrangle over the future of Kanipe park lands, a compromise put forth by county commissioners has led to a series of cooperative efforts.
Commissioners early this year put on hold a plan to log 20 acres at the north end of the 1,100-acre park. The were looking for revenue to help sustain the park no longer supported by a trust fund willed in 1983 by rancher Mildred Kanipe to the county along with the property.
The logging proposal was met with protests from the Friends of Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park. After hearing members’ concerns, commissioners told the group it had six months to raise $65,000. The grace period ends July 31.
On Friday, the Friends group announced it had received a $10,000 grant from the Whipple Foundation Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation. That total pushed the amount collected to more than $62,000. Barring some huge debacle, the logging will not go through, but the campground will. And it will go through as a result of the collaboration of many people proving that it’s possible to unite over a contentious issue.
The campground project also illustrates the ways in which good deeds can reap rewards. UCC instructor Clay Baumgartner pointed out that without the student labor, the county would have had to hire surveyors (though probably not at rates that would enable them to buy prime Virginia real estate). This not only would have been an added expense, but also might have delayed construction of the campsite.
Instead, UCC is able to offer express gratitude for the funds the county contributed several years ago to help establish the college’s engineering program.
Throughout the public debate and discussion surrounding the fate of the park, people often cited their beliefs about what Mildred Kanipe would or would not have wanted under various scenarios related to her land. While it’s dangerous to assume we know her thoughts, it’s clear she would have been pleased at how so many people, businesses and government representatives came together to create something that will leave a lasting legacy.
Perhaps it will be an inspiration to others faced by conflicting interests and seeming impasses.