New Port of Kalama park complex taking shape

Marissa Luck, March 7, 2015, The Daily News

Soccer players, softball teams, horseback riders and many other recreationists will soon have a new venue to play in: Construction of a new 24-acre park is well under way along the banks of the Kalama River.


The $4.5 million Port of Kalama park will have three baseball/softball fields, three soccer/football fields, a horse arena, bathrooms, tennis courts, basketball courts, a concession stand and on-site trailer parking. There will also be a 3,600 square-foot expo building that will be used by the Kalama Fair and other community events.


The park is located about three quarters of a mile east of Interstate 5 off Kalama River Road — near the old Kress Fields/Kalama Fairgrounds. It’s scheduled to open by late summer/ or early fall.


“Part of the port’s mission is to provide recreational opportunities. Amenities like (Haydu Park) support economic development,” Newman said. “It helps to attract people and businesses to the area when a park is nearby.”


Eventually, the old fairgrounds will be incorporated into the 70-acre Spencer Creek Business Park, which will be located across Kalama River Road from Haydu Park.


The port annexed the land for the business and recreational parks in 2012.


The park is named after the Haydu family, which previously owned the property and donated $100,000 toward building the new recreational facility.


“With the increased space, sports clubs will now have the facilities capable of hosting team tournaments from all over the region, which will increase destination tourism and revenues to the area,” Port Commissioner Troy Stariha said in a press release.


More soccer fields are definitely needed in the area, says president of Cowlitz Youth Soccer Association Morgan Aberle. The association includes about 1,500 to 1,800 players grades K-12 in Cowlitz County.


“Many teams play on the natural grass surfaces, and by the end of the season those fields get all torn up,” Aberle said. The fields will still be natural grass, but having more of them in the area will decrease wear and tear, he said.


The port awarded the project in August to the Battle Ground-based contractor Tapani Underground Inc. Construction started the same month.


Port field and maintenance superintendent Darin Sampson said so far the project has created about 20 construction jobs, but more are expected during landscaping.


Right now, the construction site consists of a large expanse of dirt, gravel, sections of newly planted grass and partially finished buildings.


Sampson said the warmer winter definitely helped the project stay on schedule, but the exact opening date hasn’t been set. A lot depends on how long it takes for the grass to germinate.


There is no set date to start construction of Spencer Creek Business Park, port marketing manager Liz Newman says, but the business park will seek to attract light industrial manufacturers, retail and professional offices.


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