Michael McCormic, Jr.
For Clark County Today
WOODLAND — What began as a dream for many Woodland residents is one step further to becoming a reality as city leaders, Rotary Club members, state legislators, and future park users gathered on Thursday for a groundbreaking ceremony for Scott Hill Park and Sports Complex.
In 2011, the city of Woodland acquired a 40 acre parcel at the top of Scott Hill and designated it for use as a park. Six years later, the first phase of construction is finally ready to begin, thanks to the efforts of local residents, the Woodland chapter of Rotary International, and funding from the Washington State legislature.
Sandy Larson, the project committee chairwoman for Scott Hill Park, explains that the Rotary Club had interest in creating a park even before the land was acquired by the city.
“In 2010, the Rotary had a board retreat, and our president asked if I would seek out some information about building a park,” says Larson.
Eventually, the city of Woodland purchased the 40 acre lot on Scott Hill, partnering with the Rotary Club to seek funding and construction of the complex.
The current blueprints accommodate three full-size soccer fields, three little league/softball diamonds, two baseball diamonds, batting cages, a playground, a concession stand, two covered pavilions, and a walking/running path over one mile long with workout stations placed along the trail.
“Right now, we’ve got kids coming up from Vancouver just to play in Woodland because they need a place to play,” explains Larson. “We know through the years that we’ve been researching that there is definitely a big need for fields. The more kids we get, the more fields we need.”
Construction on the park is planned to take place three phases, the first of which officially began on Thursday with the groundbreaking. During the half-hour long ceremony, Pastor Kevin Leach of the Woodland Presbyterian Church gave the dedication, Woodland Mayor Will Finn thanked those in attendance who had given special effort to make the park a reality, and state legislator Ed Orcutt shared some personal stories to offer his insight into how the park will benefit the Woodland community. Representative Vicki Kraft was also in attendance, but did not address the crowd.
After speeches had been delivered, Mayor Finn, Sandy Larson, Representative Orcutt, and Woodland Rotary President Asha Riley dug their shovels into the soil of the park grounds, signifying the official start of construction on Scott Hill Park.
According to Mayor Finn, the new park will have a positive economic benefit to the city of Woodland. Because many families travel for their children’s sporting events, Finn hopes that the addition of a new sports complex could help to draw that type of crowd to the Woodland area.
“It brings a lot of families, a lot of vehicles, and a lot of people from out of town. They need places to stay, they need places to eat, they need gas, they need groceries, they need all sorts of necessities that it takes to sustain a family over a weekend,” Mayor Finn asserts. “It’s going to have a tremendous impact on our local businesses and our economy.”
Before the park can generate revenue for the city of Woodland, however, it has to be completed. Phase one of construction will simply be to begin the landscaping and grading for the parking lot and the first field — a multi-use field that can function as a soccer, football, lacrosse, and softball.
“Those two pieces are what we are going to start with because with the legislative money, they like to see something,” explains Larson. “We need to show some action, and so that’s what we’re hoping to do. Of course, we’ve had prospective donors who have told us they don’t want to give us any money until they see dirt move, so we have got to perform before people realize that it is a real project.”
While the city of Woodland will continue to own and maintain the park land, the Rotary Club has had monumental influence in getting the project to its current state.
“The city owns the property and we’re doing the lion’s share of the work to get the park built,” says Woodland Rotary chapter President Asha Riley. “Our club committed to this project and since its inception have been working tirelessly. We have an amazing group of community service-minded people.”
If construction goes according to plan, the third phase of the park project will be completed within three to five years. Continued state funding is contingent on construction progress, but donations to the cause are expected to increase now that the project is officially underway.