Dream of outdoor and recreation complex moves closer to reality

Alex Peru, Reporter
Alex Peru, Reporter

RIDGEFIELD — The diesel engines of construction equipment hummed in the background as local officials and community members gathered on Thursday to break ground on a new Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex in Ridgefield.

The outdoor complex is situated on land owned by the Ridgefield School District, and is adjacent to two new schools currently under construction that will house fifth through eighth graders. Work on the new schools began in June.

The Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex came about as a partnership between the city of Ridgefield and the Ridgefield School District. The school district had acquired 50 acres of land across from the location of Ridgefield High School, and planned to build its new schools on that property several years ago.

Members of the Ridgefield City Council prepare Thursday to lift the first shovels of dirt to commemorate the beginning of construction on the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex. Photo by Alex Peru
Members of the Ridgefield City Council prepare Thursday to lift the first shovels of dirt to commemorate the beginning of construction on the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex. Photo by Alex Peru

At that time, the city also recognized a need for a community recreation facility. Mayor Ron Onslow said that in Ridgefield there is a “tremendous amount of development going on” and a “fast growing need” for recreational facilities. Because of the need for new schools and recreation facilities, the city of Ridgefield entered into a partnership with the Ridgefield School district to build the outdoor recreation facilities.

The Ridgefield School District passed a $78 million bond in Feb. 2017 that paved the way for the development of the new schools. To help save money and accomplish a joint goal of the city and district, the city of Ridgefield stepped in to help provide funding for the outdoor recreation facilities adjacent to the new schools.

Dirt flew to cheers as the ceremonial first shovels of dirt were moved at the construction site for the outdoor and recreation complex Thursday. Photo by Alex Peru
Dirt flew to cheers as the ceremonial first shovels of dirt were moved at the construction site for the outdoor and recreation complex Thursday. Photo by Alex Peru

The partnership between the school district and the city means that the school district owns most of the property, but the city will build all of the buildings on it except for the schools themselves.

School superintendent Nathan McCann called the groundbreaking for the facilities a “monumental day for Ridgefield.”

The Ridgefield Outdoor and Recreation Complex will boast six sports fields, play areas, natural areas, trails and a community meeting room. Sports such as football, soccer, baseball, track and field, lacrosse and rugby will be accommodated, and the school district teams will have access to these fields.

Ridgefield Mayor Ron Onslow said that the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex will “fulfill many of the needs that we have for our community and for the schools at the same time.” Photo by Alex Peru
Ridgefield Mayor Ron Onslow said that the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex will “fulfill many of the needs that we have for our community and for the schools at the same time.” Photo by Alex Peru

In addition to the sports fields, the facility will have a full service kitchen in its concession stand. It will also have bike and pedestrian facilities “built for bikes and pedestrians, as opposed to ones that were built after the fact,” Stuart said. The complex will boast 400 to 500 parking spaces as well.

Joe Melroy, commissioner for the Port of Ridgefield, praised the progress the project has had so far.

“This community advances so well,” Melroy said.

Ridgefield City Manager Steve Stuart was excited for the services the new outdoor complex would provide for the students of Ridgefield School District and the community as a whole. Photo by Alex Peru
Ridgefield City Manager Steve Stuart was excited for the services the new outdoor complex would provide for the students of Ridgefield School District and the community as a whole. Photo by Alex Peru

One resident of note at the ceremony was lifelong Ridgefield native John Burrow. Burrow turned 102 this year and is known as the oldest living graduate of Ridgefield High School. Burrow knew the original owners of the land on which the complex is being built.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Burrow said. “This property is ideal for it.”

The expected completion date for the Ridgefield Outdoor and Recreation Complex is the fall of 2018.

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About The Author

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Alex Peru is a 2017 graduate of Washington State University Vancouver. He has a bachelor’s degree in History and a double minor in Political Science and Business Administration. Peru grew up in Battle Ground, and graduated from CAM Academy in 2013. He worked for The VanCougar, WSU Vancouver’s campus newspaper, for three years, including one year as the editor-in-chief. When not working, Peru enjoys reading books about history, working on cars and enjoying the outdoors in Clark County’s beautiful rivers, lakes and forests.

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