Mission Statement

Our primary purpose shall be to work in a mutual relationship with the City of Sutherlin (City) to assist in the coordination of development and maintenance of the Ford’s Pond property for recreational benefit to the City; and to educate the public concerning the health benefits of outdoor recreation and to increase environmental awareness.

All improvements at Ford’s Pond Community Park are made possible through our fundraising efforts.

Our volunteers keep Ford’s Pond Community Park clean, safe, and accessible, while improving the habitat for wildlife.

Join our Monday Walkers to meet new friends while getting some exercise. Dogs on leash are welcome.

Our History

February 24, 2014-The City of Sutherlin considers purchasing Ford’s Pond for future municipal use; Sutherlin resident Beth Houseman suggests City Council could concurrently create a park.

April 29, 2014-The Friends of Ford’s Pond is incorporated by residents Beth and Jim Houseman, Heather and Josh Waechter, and Betty and Dale Roberson.

August 14, 2014-The city purchases the Ford’s Pond property and allows public access.

September 4, 2014-The founding Board of Directors meet: Jim Houseman (President), Wendi Stinnett (Treasurer), Beth Houseman (Secretary), Josh Waechter, Janel Sorenson, Colin Murphy, and Michelle Harding.

We successfully convince the city to store Class A wastewater in Ford’s Pond to allow for recreational use. 

March 9, 2015-City Resolution 2015.01: Designates the Ford’s Pond property as a park and the Friends of Ford’s Pond as a city partner in creating recreational opportunities.

The Friends assist the city with a $40,000 grant award from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, along with matching funds from local businesses, individuals, and The Ford Family Foundation for a park master plan.

Cameron McCarthy, a Landscape and Architecture and Planning firm, is hired to develop the Ford’s Pond Community Park Master Plan.

City Council adopts the final plan on December 11, 2017.

The Friends maintain a perimeter path (1.75 miles) around Ford’s Pond and a hillside loop (1-mile) and collect/remove trash.  

Grindings from the Central Avenue resurfacing project are placed at Church Rd. for future use. The city allows parking in July and park usage surges.

The city completes an Urban Growth Boundary Swap removing all, except 5 acres, of the property from city limits.

The Friends begin fundraising for park improvements and host the first event at Ford’s Pond with Blue Zones Project – Umpqua in July 2018. 


In 2019, the Friends are awarded a $25,000 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners grant to restore the oak savanna habitat on the west hillside. Working with Sutherlin HS, FFA students harvest acorns and begin growing the saplings at the school greenhouse. The Friends clear brush on the hillside.

With assistance from the Friends, the city is awarded two grants: 2018 Recreational Trails Program and 2019 Local Government Grant Program. With additional donations, including a $50,000 donation from the Sutherlin Area Chamber of Commerce (transient room tax proceeds) and 2018 and 2019 C. Giles Hunt Charitable Trust grants, over $700,000 is available for improvements. The Dyer Partnership Engineers and Planners, Inc., with David Dougherty, L.A., is contracted for the design/project management, with the ADA-accessible parking area, connection path, and a portion of the perimeter path, along with site prep, utilities, and furnishings scheduled for bid/construction in Summer 2020. 

The Friends sign a 5-year Master Agreement with the city continuing the partnership and outline fundraising goals for 2020.

A weekly Monday Walkers group begins meeting in October 2018 (ongoing).


The Friends adjust to COVID-19 impacts beginning in March 2020, when all in-person contact is restricted. Fundraising continues via regular eNews and Facebook postings, an upgraded website, and a direct mail campaign to the Sutherlin zip code (97479).

In 2020, construction begins on the first phase of improvements. The city awards the construction contract to Cradar Enterprises. The Friends successfully apply to The Ford Family Foundation ($25,000), C. Giles Hunt Charitable Trust ($10,000), and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians Foundation ($5,000) and increase the funding for Projects 1 (Perimeter Path) and 2A (SE Corner) to over $760,000. Delays from COVID-19 and wildfire smoke push the completion date to 2021. During construction, the city opens temporary parking off Hwy 138W.

In 2020, the Friends, on behalf of the city, apply for three Oregon Parks and Recreation grants. All three are awarded, totaling over $960,000. The city will now be able to complete the perimeter path (Project 1) and add restrooms, picnic shelters, and an inclusive, natural playground (Project 2B). Construction is expected to be completed in 2022.

Ford’s Pond remains open and increases in popularity, drawing in residents around the county. Volunteers mow additional “social distancing” paths. Volunteers Tony Rosa and Joe Keady restore three BLM-donated picnic tables and place them at the park.

In December 2020, volunteers, including the Sutherlin HS FFA Chapter, plant 400 oak saplings on the west hillside. The trees had been grown from acorns collected by the students 2 years ago. Funding was made possible through grants from the US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners Program ($25,000) and Cascade Community Credit Union ($1,000). The Friends’ volunteers donated over 2,000 hours clearing brush from the hillside to prepare for the planting.

The first phase of improvements was completed and Ford’s Pond Community Park became a very popular place! Site improvements included a 35-space paved parking area with: 4 ADA-parking spaces, a food truck pad, landscaping, sidewalks, utilities, and an entrance sign; a redesigned path down to the pond, and paving half of the perimeter path.

The city awarded the design/project management contract for Phase 2 improvements to David Dougherty, DLA Inc., who teamed with the Dyer Partnership and Anita Van Asperdt of LandCurrent, a specialized playground designer. With the unique funding situation of three grants, two with federal funding and one with state funding, the design of the playground will be completed first, but the construction contract will be delayed until an archeological survey, required by one federal grant, is completed. Then, paving the remainder of the perimeter path and constructing the restrooms, picnic shelters, and play area will be bid together to reduce construction costs.

The Sutherlin FFA Chapter once again selected Ford’s Pond for a community service project for another 2-year oak savanna restoration project. Acorns were collected onsite in September and will be grown at the high school’s greenhouse, with the seedlings scheduled to be planted in fall 2023.

The city began releasing Class A water into Ford’s Pond in October 2021.

Board of Directors

Jim Houseman


Brian Menefee


Beth Houseman


Crystal Cunningham

Board Member

Geoffrey Faraghan

Board Member

Larry Whitaker

Board Member

Past eNews