Ridgefield isn’t about to stop growing anytime soon, city councilors say.
On March 21, Ridgefield unveiled its latest “State of the City” video, which details current and upcoming projects and key aspects city officials and residents feel are important as the growth continues.
State of the City addresses have been a Ridgefield tradition. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the addresses shifted format from a strictly in-person event at Ridgefield High School to a video production, though the city hosted a physical premiere at the high school as well.
The address focused around the latest developments within city limits. Among the biggest happening this year is the start of construction of a YMCA off of Pioneer Street near the Interstate 5 interchange.
Ridgefield City Councilor Matt Cole said Ridgefield looked for a partner who was just as invested in the community as the city council and found it in the YMCA.
Apart from featuring two pools, a full gymnasium, a fitness area, a physical therapy center and community meeting spaces, Cole said the YMCA’s presence will be more than physical. The organization has already been involved in Ridgefield even before it has broken ground on the facility, he said. The YMCA started hosting youth day camps and different classes throughout 2022.
“That’s something that they’ve been very invested in from day one, since the day that they announced (coming) here,” Cole said. “They may not have a physical place in Ridgefield just yet, but they definitely have a presence here.”
The city’s residents will be able to get a discounted membership to the YMCA, Cole said.
Ridgefield also expects to start construction on an advanced manufacturing center on the east side of Interstate 5 this year. Councilor Judy Chipman said the facility is tentatively planned to begin construction at the end of 2023 and should open in 2025.
The building is the first of several planned for the Boschma Farms satellite campus of Clark College.
“The city council and Clark College Foundation has been working on this project for nearly a decade, and, of course, the Boschma family played a big part in that,” Chipman said. “I think it’s going to be a big boon for Ridgefield.”
Ridgefield High School Shop teacher Chris Shipp agreed the Boschma Farms campus will be a benefit to education for the community. As an RHS graduate, Shipp said shop classes in the district steered him in the direction where he wanted to take his career.
Shipp said the campus will allow high school students to move from their high school manufacturing classes to college-level machining without leaving the city.
“It’s just going to be a game-changer for the community,” Shipp said.
Councilor Rachel Coker said she often hears questions about how the economic growth of the city will impact the small-town charm Ridgefield has.
“Now as we see some of the newer, bigger, more recognizable chains and companies, it’s been really important to still preserve that (charm),” Coker said. “As residents move in, they’re looking for something unique and special, not just what you get on every other street corner in every other city in Washington.”
One of those differences will be the incoming Costco warehouse, which will require enhanced design standards with “things that make it stand out so that you know you’re in Ridgefield,” Coker said.
Alongside Costco, Coker mentioned a Tractor Supply Company and Les Schwab Tire Center store are in the works.
Of the city councilors, Lee Wells has lived the longest in Ridgefield, having grown up on his family farm that is the namesake of much of the development near Royle Road.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years,” Wells said.
Wells spoke about the infrastructure improvements the city is putting forth this year. He mentioned the ongoing improvements to South Royle Road as well as the widening of Pioneer Street, an overpass from South 11th Street across the interstate, and the potential for a connection to the I-5 interchange that currently only leads into Battle Ground.
“If you’ve got traffic congestion, people won’t move here. If you keep the traffic moving, they’ll be happy,” Wells said.
Councilor Ron Onslow mentioned the variety of parks and trails improvements planned for 2023, which includes the building of a splash pad water fixture at Overlook Park downtown and the expansion of the Ridgefield off-leash dog park. Onslow also mentioned the Lewis and Clark Trail, a planned path running from Washougal to La Center with parts in Ridgefield, of which the city will be a part of, alongside its other trail efforts.
“We’re going to eventually have a trail that will completely go around the city,” Onslow said.
The address featured a number of residents who touched on the walkability, safety and business-supportive nature of Ridgefield.
Gail Alexander, a resident of one of the floating homes on the Ridgefield Waterfront, said the city is in a prime position to protect and support the natural beauty it has on its riverbanks.
“It’s vitally important that we protect what we have,” Alexander said.
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