The fog on Oct. 18 cleared in time to have the first ground broken on a Woodland Civic Center illuminated by sun.
On one of the chillier mornings of the week, city officials and employees of Colf Construction gathered at the corner of Goerig Street and Lakewood Drive to celebrate the beginning of construction on the 1,200-square-foot facility. The facility will include reception, exhibit and office space, as well as public restrooms, according to a project page on the city’s website.
Getting a civic center built has been in the works since 2016, Mayor Will Finn said. The civic center originated from the need of a senior center included in Woodland’s growth planning document. The city administration wanted to broaden the community that a facility would serve, hence the more inclusive civic center, he said.
Finn said the center will also include an outdoor sitting area, pet relief station, exterior restrooms and shared parking with the new Woodland Community Library. The library had its own ceremonial groundbreaking during this year’s Planters Days festival.
Finn said there will be space for the Woodland Visitors Center, which currently occupies a trailer across the street, though occupancy agreements were still in the works. The center will also tie into a trail system, he mentioned. The “Six Rivers Trail,” a planned 36-mile, multi-use trail will run from Woodland to Lewis County, according to information from the Cowlitz Economic Development Council website.
“We started with a vision. The [growth] plan supports that vision. And now we’re to an actual project,” Finn said.
City administration looked at other areas for the center, but the spot near the future library cost the least, Finn said. That was in part due to a deal between the city and the Fort Vancouver Library District, which runs the current and future Woodland libraries.
The district is building a new library for the city on adjacent land and initially owned both parcels. Instead of the district paying for the frontage improvements, some of that cost was deducted for the price of the land the city received, Woodland City Administrator Pete Boyce explained. The city was already doing those improvements in the area, so taking the land in lieu of funding the improvements made sense.
Coleman noted that given the project to improve the city’s interchange with Interstate 5 at Exit 21, improvements that will require obtaining rights of way at the Goerig and Lakeshore intersection were likely. With the city taking the land next to the intersection, it will be less hassle for any future alterations to take place.
“Whatever this improvement to this intersection will happen [as], it may take part of the front of the land away that the library didn’t want to have, which won’t affect this small civic center,” Coleman said.
The center will in part tie into the library’s look to keep a similar design on the corner, Coleman said.
The land the city received was valued at about $296,000, Coleman said in an email. The city received close to $138,000 from the library district, as well as an offset to what the frontage improvements would cost.
The cost of the project outside of land is not to exceed $600,000, Coleman said. The city has received grants of $30,000 apiece from city and Cowlitz County lodging tax and $10,000 from the Port of Woodland.
“Being that we have been working on this for so many years, to actually have the groundbreaking today, and the perfect weather, it’s been absolutely amazing,” Coleman said.