Public asked for input on future of Stanwood’s Ovenell Park

STANWOOD — Planners are asking for feedback on how best to transform a former dairy into a park in downtown Stanwood.

A committee of volunteers has been meeting since October to work on a master plan for Ovenell Park, formerly the Ovenell Dairy.

They’ve come up with two alternatives, one with a launch for non-motorized boats and the other with a dock. Ovenell Park is located along the Stillaguamish River on the west end of Stanwood.

The city bought the 15-acre Ovenell property in 2014 for $1.5 million. It was part of $2 million total they spent for parkland. The other $500,000 was for the Hamilton Mill property off Highway 532, also downtown.

The city paid $300,000, the Hamilton family donated an estimated $236,000 worth of land and the rest was paid for with Snohomish County Conservation Futures dollars.

A boat launch is expected to be put in at either the Ovenell or Hamilton property to access the Stillaguamish River. If people say they would prefer the boat launch at the Hamilton property, a dock would be built at Ovenell instead.

A conservation easement has been placed on the property, meaning it is protected as natural and open space and cannot be substantially developed.

For example, the city could put in trails, restrooms or playgrounds but could not build a community center or sports field on the property.

City staff and committee volunteers toured other parks for ideas, including Jennings Park in Marysville and River Meadows Park in Arlington.

Among the possibilities for Ovenell Park are an open area for events such as outdoor movies, a community garden and wetland restoration with trails and boardwalks. The committee also would like to see picnic tables, a playground and signs with information about the history and ecology of the area.

The property has a farmhouse, three barns, a detached garage, sheds and a shop. Most of the buildings are in poor condition and some are collapsing.

The plan is to remove most of the wooden structures, city administrator Deborah Knight said. One barn could be renovated into an event space for weddings or other gatherings. The farmhouse would make for a good rental, too, once it’s fixed up. Planners hope to refurbish a large metal shed for Future Farmers of America events and a large barn for a farmers market and demonstration kitchen.

An open house is scheduled Feb. 22 from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Fire Station 99, 8117 267th St. NW. People can ask questions and weigh in on which of the two alternatives they prefer and what other details they might like to see, or not see, at the park.

The Ovenell Park advisory committee expects to present a master plan to the Stanwood City Council for final approval this summer. The park could be opened to the public, at least for limited use, soon after.

Work on the buildings, boardwalk, boat launch and other features would start this year.

There’s no firm timeline for when everything would be complete, Knight said.

For more information, go to ci.stanwood.wa.us/parksrec/page/ovenell-farm-park-future-park.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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