EDMONDS — Four years after it bought the aging Civic Field near the Boys & Girls Club, the city is now ready to move forward with renovating the downtown park.
A City Council vote in July filled the last budget gap for the $12 million upgrade. The new Civic Park could open by summer 2021.
“It’s going to be an amazing park,” said deputy director of parks and recreation Shannon Hurley. “We appreciate the fact we were able to get that money and bring this park to life.”
Over the years, the city scraped together $8.8 million for the project, more than half coming from grants, including a $1.5 million donation from the Hazel Miller Foundation. The last $3.7 million needed to finish the project will come from a bond measure passed at the July 16 city council meeting.
Civic Park will host a walking and running track, a lighted soccer field, six petanque courts, a multi-sport court, an upgraded skate park, tennis courts, an outdoor fitness area and a fully-inclusive playground.
“It’s sort of an amalgamation of what many people in town were looking for,” Hurley said.
Part of the eight-acre plot housed the old Edmonds High School. It’s been home to Civic Field since 1975, when the Edmonds School District started leasing the property to the city for $1 a year, plus maintenance fees. In 2015, the city bought the park from the district for $1.9 million. Crews demolished the nearby football field and track last year to make room for Civic Park.
Hurley said wood from the old stadium will be repurposed “to show the history of the site.”
Another Civic Park feature is an inclusive playground, similar to a recently opened playground at Seaview Park.
The Edmonds Rotary Club is raising money for the play equipment through its inaugural Oktoberfest event in September.
At the July meeting, the bond passed 5-2. Now, the city will pay $244,000 a year in interest on the 20-year loan, about $4.8 million.
City Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Councilwoman Kristiana Johnson both voted against the bond calling the park a luxury the city could wait to build.
“Not that I don’t love parks,” Fraley-Monillas said on Friday. “I think Civic Park is going to be the most beautiful park we have in Edmonds. I just am not crazy about spending a lot of money to be able to bond it out. In my personal life, I don’t buy things I can’t afford.”
During the bond’s proposal, Johnson said she’s philosophically against spending long-term dollars for the upgrade.
She said the council should use the available money to build as much of the park as it can, and add to it over time.
Fraley-Monillas said she agreed with a pay-as-you-go method. Bonding, she said, means the city may not have money for future projects.
“Nobody seemed to want to do that,” she said. “Everybody seemed to want to get it done now.”
Councilman Dave Teitzel said low interest rates and the time value of money are reasons he supported the bond. In the future, a dollar, he added, will not be worth what it is today, making the long-term spending cheaper.
Paying for the park over time allows the city to use its general budget revenue for building upgrades, he said.
Fraley-Monillas also expressed concern about the high water table underneath the Civic Park site, which could cause large pools of standing water and drive up the project’s costs, she said.
Hurley said the water table is the most challenging aspect of the park, but the design takes the issue into account.
“Nobody wants to build a park that’s going to end up being muddy,” she said.
With the money in place, the city will seek bids for the project in February. Construction could start in April or May.