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With Smith Stadium demolished, park reconstruction will continue through summer.

PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - With new infrastructure on hand, Legion Park improvements will be taking place over the next several months.The stadium has been demolished and the makeover of Legion Park is now underway in earnest.

In late May, city of Woodburn Community Services Director Jesse Cuomo apprised the town's City Council about the status of the project while also getting approval for $300,000 to be added to the contract to cover necessary change orders and unanticipated contingencies that could arise during the construction process. The council awarded the $4,004,640 contract to Hellas Construction in October.

"There has been some demolition that has begun at the park, and that will continue," Cuomo said. "This is just trying to get ahead of what we see as some possible expenditure items that we don't currently have built into the contract or the ability for staff to approve under the ordinances."

Some councilors and city staff have fielded questions about the stadium demolition and various other aspects of the project.

"I know you have probably perhaps (informed the public) already, but people don't recognize it until they see the stadium is gone," Councilor Mary Beth Cornwell said, urging more public updates about the project, which has been in the works for more than a decade.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Improvements will take place at Legion Park over the summer and fall.

"Yeah, I've had a couple of phone calls," Cuomo said. "One point to that is the stadium (is obsolete). Once the police access road was placed at Legion, that kind of placed the stadium at the end of the soccer field. So, from a viewing standpoint, you only saw (action) from the end of it. (With improvements) you will actually be able to see the action from the sidelines."

Cuomo added that there were some safety concerns about the old stadium.

Cornwell also received comments from people who hoped to see the stadium name preserved; it was named for Dr. Gerald Smith.

"I truly have no opinion on that, personally," Cuomo said. "I wouldn't mind seeing it that way, and it might be an opportunity to change. I think we can leave that up to (a potential naming committee). At this time there is no plan to change the name."

Another concern expressed by some residents in the area involved the project's effect on wildlife, specifically rabbits.

"There were a couple of people not happy about the bunnies that are displaced now," Councilor Benito "Bubu" Puente said. "They are all over the area, and it's causing one of the kid's asthma to flare up, because they are all landing at one of the homes. So, they are wondering why didn't we take into consideration the animal life there."PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - An empty hole sits where the stadium once was at Legion Park in Woodburn. Renovation of the park's activities area is underway.

Cuomo said the rabbits appear to be ones that may have been house-raised initially, while City Administrator Scott Derickson questioned the more recent dearth of coyotes in the area.

"What happened to the coyotes?" Derickson asked. "There used to be quite a few coyotes that controlled the rabbit population. At the PD, I used to see coyotes constantly."

Legion project

The city of Woodburn held the official groundbreaking for the Legion Park improvement project on April 8, noting that this is the second and final phase of the improvements. Currently, the park's parking lot is closed and is anticipated to remain so through the fall.

City sources noted that the project was identified in the 2009 Parks and Recreation Master Plan, 2014 Legion Park Master Plan, and the 2016 Parks and Recreation SDC methodology. It has long been a city priority and will be completed when this current phase, and weightiest one, is done.

Earlier improvements included a new pavilion with restrooms, an archaeological-themed playground, paved pathways with exercise stations and an expanded lawn area with irrigation.

"(Legion Park will provide) Woodburn residents with access to a top-notch soccer facility with new covered stadium and new LED field lighting that can be used year-round," city spokesman Tommy Moore said. "In addition, there will be four pickleball courts and two basketball/futsal courts, all with LED lighting."

Construction is anticipated to occur throughout summer.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - A sign advises Legion Park visitors of the parking lot closure as construction of the new activities area gets underway.

"Yesterday was the official groundbreaking of the work to renovate Legion Park with a new turf field, stadium, lighting, and basketball and pickleball courts to boot," Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson posted on social media in early April. "Thanks to state Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon for securing $1 million of state funding — and a hefty donation from Amazon — to make the project possible. Big kudos go out to our city staff, city councilors, parks board members and all who have advocated for this project over the years."


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