BELLINGHAM - Construction will start in the coming weeks on the third phase of Squalicum Creek Park - a project that includes creating a new ball field, basketball court, fenced off-leash area for dogs, and a playground.
The two-acre dog park will be the second fenced off-leash area for pooches in Bellingham and will serve the northern part of the city.
It's needed, according to a member of the Grateful Dogs Off-Leash Association.
"We have a high dog population," said Anara Thomas, a Bellingham resident and association member.
"It keeps the dogs and their owners off of the trails that a lot of people use," she added. "We have heavily used trails, and people with children in strollers, and bicycles, and people with dogs sometimes makes it too crowded."
The other fenced off-leash area is at Lake Padden Park. The new one will include a space for small and shy dogs.
Other work for the 35-acre park in the Birchwood Neighborhood will include lighting for the existing baseball field and the new ball field, new trails, picnic shelter, demolishing a building, putting in a restroom, and converting a building now used for storage into one for park maintenance.
And crews will remove a hill in the center of the park off Squalicum Way that's used by dog walkers and sledders.
The two ball fields will be adjacent to each other and will be used for youth baseball as well as adult softball. Because no fence will be erected between them in the outfield, they also could serve as one multi-purpose field.
"Our citizens asked for that and that's how we responded," said Jonathan Schilk, landscape architect for Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department.
As for the new playground, Schilk said it will be unusual and draw people to the park.
"It's going to engage their imagination," he said of children.
A total of $4.5 million has been budgeted for construction.
Funding will come from $500,000 in park impact fees and $4 million from the Greenways III levy.
Bellingham-based Strider Construction received the contract for the work. The company was the low bidder at $3.l million.
The work could start later this month or in early March and continue until mid-November.
Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or firstname.lastname@example.org .