More athletic fields coming to this Bellingham park

Leashed dogs walk on the trail around Squalicum Creek Park.
Leashed dogs walk on the trail around Squalicum Creek Park. The Bellingham Herald file

The city has received a $350,000 state grant to build a new athletic field at Squalicum Creek Park.

The project will help meet what Bellingham officials and supporters say is a widespread need for athletic fields throughout the city.

The Youth Athletic Facilities grant will be used to build the fourth phase of the park at 1001 Squalicum Way, according to a City of Bellingham release.

The entire project will cost about $850,000. It is expected to start next year and be completed by 2021.

Greenways levy money will be used for the city’s match for the state grant.

It includes a pared-down baseball diamond, which will work with existing fields to create more space for other team sports, including lacrosse, soccer, rugby and Ultimate Frisbee.

There’s been a big increase in the popularity of rugby and lacrosse, according to Nicole Oliver, the parks development manager for the city of Bellingham.

The project will include grading the site as well as installing drainage and irrigation systems.

In 2002, the city spent $4 million to buy the 42-acre former Pacific Concrete Industries site for a multi-use park that would meet the city’s growing demands for open space and ball fields. Funding came from the 1997 Greenways levy approved by voters.

Its initial development was partially paid for with settlement money that Olympic Pipe Line Co. paid as part of the penalty for the June 10, 1999, gasoline pipeline rupture and explosion in Whatcom Falls Park that killed three Bellingham boys.

Kie Relyea has been a reporter at The Bellingham Herald since 1997 and currently writes about social services and recreation in Whatcom County. She started her career in 1991 as a reporter and editor in Northern California.