Residents of Woodland gathered on Wednesday to watch the demolition of the abandoned motel make room for a new community center
Michael McCormic, Jr.
For Clark County Today
WOODLAND — It was a moment that, for the city of Woodland, had been a long time coming. Nearly two decades of fundraising, planning, and community engagement manifested itself this Wednesday when Woodland residents gathered to take the next step in bringing a YMCA and community pool to their town by ceremonially beginning the demolition of the abandoned Lakeside Motel.
The demolition event began at 5:30 with a catered BBQ rib dinner by America’s Family Diner, a Woodland restaurant and catering service. Shortly following the dinner, the crowd gathered along the yellow caution tape to hear from the chairman and president of the Woodland Community Swimming Pool Committee, Benno Dobbe, who discussed the history of the Woodland YMCA project and what is to come after this demolition.
“The good news is that, throughout the many years of working on this project, the final result ends up even better than ever before,” Dobbe told the crowd. “This is the very best location in Woodland; close to the freeway, next to our recreational Horseshoe Lake Park, with a few of the Horseshoe Lake, and it is located in the middle of several surrounding supportive communities.”
Following Dobbe’s speech, Woodland Mayor Will Finn addressed those in attendance, followed by state Rep. Ed Orcutt of the 20th state district, who noted the events surprising attendance as an indication that the community supports this endeavour.
“One of the things that we do in Olympia is we try to get some of your tax dollars returned for community projects,” explains Orcutt. “One of the questions we always get asked is, ‘Is there community support for this project?’ And looking around at the crowd that’s assembled tonight, there’s no question there is plenty of community support for this project.”
Darlene Johnson, treasurer of the Woodland Chamber of Commerce, Bob Hale, president and CEO of YMCA Columbia-Willamette, and Michael Green, superintendent of Woodland Public Schools, also addressed the crowd before demolition began.
Once the speeches had wrapped up and the Woodland Fire Department had watered down the demolition site to prevent dust and fine debris from making its way into the crowd, children ages 6-12 were offered the chance to sit in the excavator and tear down a piece of the motel’s roof. The demolition team originally planned to use a makeshift wrecking ball to break the concrete walls of the structure, but, with the added muscle of a few kids behind the controls, the excavator was easily able to break down the entire structure without the need of a wrecking ball.
This event will be the first of many changes to the Lakeside Motel property, and was the first step in the physical construction of the new YMCA facility. However, a Woodland YMCA has been decades in the making; Dobbe, who has been serving on the Woodland Community Swimming Pool Committee since 1995, says it has been an arduous journey with no shortage of setbacks. In fact, back in November of 2017, a bond that would have funded the construction of a pool failed to be passed by the electorate, causing the pool committee to change their future construction plans.
“We have been gearing up for this moment for many years, but because this pool bond measure failed last year, we decided to do a YMCA facility first,” says Dobbe.
While the pool may have to wait a few years after the YMCA has already been built, Dobbe and his wife currently own the property adjacent to the future YMCA site, and plan to donate the land to the Woodland community when the time is right.
Only one section of the Lakeside Motel was demolished on May 23. The remainder of the structure will be brought down during the Woodland Planters Days from June 14-17. During the full demolition, donors to the community center fund will be given the chance to take the controls of an excavator and demolish an entire section of the motel by themselves.
For more information on the Woodland YMCA and community pool visit http://woodlandymca.org/.