Steve Pettigrew doesn’t want to see the trails, pictured, paved to become streets in Surrey’s Hawthorne Park. (Photo: Amy Reid)

Hundreds attend Surrey open house about roads through Hawthorne Park

City proceeding with design work despite opposition to new roads that cut through a Surrey park

Surrey resident Steve Pettigrew is not wavering in his quest to have the city halt plans to build roads through Hawthorne Park.

Pettigrew said “many, many hundreds of people” showed up to a community meeting about the project Wednesday (June 7), held by the city at Guildford Park Secondary.

About three hundred, by the city’s count.

“My next plan is to attend a council meeting and present the petition and tell our story,” Pettigrew told the Now-Leader, adding he hopes to appear later this month.

He said he is encouraged by the “overwhelming community support.” More than 2,000 people have signed his petition (change.org/p/save-hawthorne-park).

Pettigrew frequently jogs in the trails, does bird watching within the forest, and even picks mushrooms there in the fall. He talks of the many animals that call the park home, including hawks, frogs, owls, bats and more.

He vows to fight the destruction of the “beautiful forested area” that he describes as an “oasis for the community.”

The city says the roads were planned in the 1986 Official Community Plan, but are doing it now because it has money to relocate some large water mains on 104th Avenue, in anticipation of the light rail project along the artery.

Planned is a two-lane road, with an additional connecting road, through the south end of Hawthorne Park. It’s called the 105th Avenue Connector project. The street, if built, would connect Whalley Boulevard to 150th Street and work is scheduled to begin in late August, according to a letter to residents.

Scroll to the bottom of this story for a map of the proposed roads.

The city says it will be acquiring new park land to make up for what’s lost within Hawthorne Park.

Victor Jhingan is project manager for the 105 Avenue Connector.

He said residents who came to the open house last week had questions about the road alignment, how traffic calming would be supported, as well as impacts on Hawthorne Park.

“There were concerns about the impact on the park but we did get a lot of good feedback from the community about what kind of amenities could be brought in to mitigate impacts overall,” said Jhingan. “There were also people who were unsupportive of the project based on principle. There were a number of people who didn’t support the road work at all. We took note of that and we will be briefing our council about the open house and what the sentiment of the community was.”

Despite those concerns, Jhingan said the city if progressing with detailed design work of the project but will incorporate feedback from the community.

Things like road calming and the impact on the park, for example.

“We’ll look at the general width of the road and see how we can narrow that and perhaps tweak it to minimize the footprint as much as we can,” said Jhingan.

The city’s website notes it “recognizes that introducing this planned road connection will be a significant change within the community.”

One such impact, aside from paving roads through Hawthorn Park, includes cutting through Hjorth Road Elementary School’s outdoor play field.

Jhingan said the planned road “cuts the field into two down the middle.”

“It doesn’t affect the playground, but affects the field,” he noted. “We’ve met with the school board and we’re talking about how we can offset the impact of the play field. It may mean acquiring another property.”

Meanwhile, the city has started acquiring properties it needs to allow for the road’s construction.

A purchase and sale agreement has been negotiated for a property at 10546 140th Street. On the property is a rancher that was built in 1955.

Jhingan said all told, the city will have to acquire roughly 20 residential properties to allow for the 105 Avenue Connector to be built.

amy.reid@surreynowleader.com