Jackson Farm long ways from park

New subdivision named after farm, no timeline for creating public space

While the developer of a small subdivision next to Jackson Farm is using the name of the future park as a marketing tool, Friends of Jackson Farm activist Stuart Pledge is wondering when the real thing takes shape.

“It is now over three years since the district obtained ownership of the Jackson Farm Park site and as far as I know there continues to be no budget for even the minimum of maintenance on the site,” Pledge says in an e-mail to Maple Ridge mayor and council.

Volunteers have trimmed blackberry bushes to identify historic fruit trees and shrubs so they’re not mowed down when park construction begins. But the site “continues to deteriorate through the neglect of its owner, the District of Maple Ridge.”

Part of the historic Jackson Farm was preserved in 2010 after a deal with the developers, the Redmond family and other landowners.

In return for allowing housing on the upper northeast corner of the old Jackson Farm on 248th Street, the Redmonds and others gave the District of Maple Ridge 37 acres of rolling farmland in the southwest corner of the old farm on 102nd Avenue and 244th Street for future park use.

Pledge led the Friends of Jackson Farm group which lobbied successfully to preserve the farm.

He’s also suggesting that the developer of a small subdivision adjacent to the park’s northwest corner change the name of the development from Jackson Park – to Jackson Slopes or Jackson Edge.

“I am curious how council members view the appropriation of the name Jackson Park for this small housing development?”

For Coun. Bob Masse, the district has no control over what a business wants to call its products. “The developer can call it whatever he wants.”

Masse said he didn’t see any urgency in developing the park, adding the land is being preserved for later public use. Deciding on the future form and use of the park will take a lot of planning and public consultation, he added.

Neither does he see a future council opting to pull the land from park use and allow it to be developed. “I would highly doubt that would happen.”

Parks and recreation services general manager Kelly Swift added that development of the park isn’t in the five-year plan and that it’s difficult to say when it will be.

Once council decides to proceed however, a master plan is first devised then that plan is implemented in different phases over time.

“It’s kind of typical that it takes awhile to work into the plan,” said Bruce McLeod, parks planning manager.

It will also take awhile to accumulate the funds in the park budget to allow the extensive work that would be needed to turn the property into a public park. Until then, the old farm is off limits.

“We’re not really encouraging people to access the site.”