Legion Park project could get federal funds
As part of the COVID-19 American Rescue Plan Act, Woodburn stands to receive some significant funding to realize a long-awaited project of getting artificial turf installed at Legion Park.
State legislators were given the green light to recommend specific ARPS funds for projects within their district's, and Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon recommended a $1,004,300 allotment for Legion Park.
Chemeketa Community College's Brooks Regional Training Center would also receive funding per Alonso Leon's recommendation; $323,700 for fire engine.
Alonso Leon's office said all the allotments are pending a review by the Oregon Legislative Fiscal Office.
Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson, who previously served on the city's Parks and Recreation Board, said the project had been envisioned for more than a decade. In addition to the new field, it calls for revamping the aged stadium at the park. The city would use System Development Charges in addition to the federal aid to realize the project.
Swenson said if approved the project could potentially be a major boon to the recovery of Woodburn's business community as well as an attractive addition to area recreation.
Woodburn Parks and Recreation Director Jesse Cuomo said there is a guarded optimism in seeing this through.
"Ultimately the funding has not yet been approved by the state," Cuomo said. "Once that approval is official, we hope to have the project under construction in Spring of 2022 with opening being early that summer."
Projected planned improvements include:
• Synthetic turf field;
• Updated lighting;
• Removal of current stadium seating;
• Installation of new seating;
• Expanded walking paths (future phase – funding dependent);
• Sports Courts future phase – funding dependent).
The city's application for the funding noted:
"Legion Park has the potential to be a much better community-gathering place as well as regional focus point to allow our local businesses to experience economic recovery. Legion Park is one of the oldest and most popular parks in the city and hosts numerous soccer tournaments throughout the year. The Park is also host to Woodburn's annual Fiesta Mexicana cultural event that averages 23,000 to 25,000 visitors."
The application also noted that the current grass field is not usable during wet periods throughout the year. The turf change would ultimately make it usable year round.
The city's application proposal further noted:
"Woodburn has long been known as the soccer capital of Oregon and this Legion Park Athletic Complex project would allow our community to have a year-round sports complex that residents have waited on for more than a decade. This project would promote Woodburn as an athletic tournament and event hub bringing teams and families from all over the state to the community where they can enjoy the cultural richness Woodburn offers while providing an economic boost to our businesses."
House District 22 Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon requested for the full $2 million, the maximum allowed per representative and four projects, also the maximum.
They are: (1) $1,004,300 for Legion Park development; (2) $172,000 for Salem Free Clinics; (3) $323,700 for new fire engine at Brooks Training Center (firefighters) run by Chemeketa Community College; (4) $500,000 for Alianza Poder support of farmworker families.
The money comes from the state's share of American Rescue Plan federal funds.
-- Pamplin Media reporter Peter Wong contributed to this story.
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