First phase of Fifty-Acre Park to be completed by 2015

By Wilson Criscione, News Writer

The piles of dirt and bustling workers across from the Eagle Point apartment complex will transform into green baseball fields and smooth pavement in little over a year.

Todd Ableman, Cheney’s public works director, said phase one, what is unofficially called the Fifty-Acre Park, should be completed by June 2015.

In this first phase of completion, the city is concentrating on irrigation and drainage before they put in grass and set up two baseball fields. By spring of 2015, they will add restrooms and a parking lot. Along with the basketball court already in place, this phase will cover 13 acres of the planned 50 acres for the park.

Ableman said the city purchased the 50 acres in the early 2000s with the idea to build a regional park, but the state funding for the project had been limited.

“We really just rely on grant money to help us out,” Ableman said.

State grants come from the Washington’s Recreation and Conservation Office. Ableman said a few years ago they were awarded a grant for the first phase of the park which allowed them to begin bringing utilities and water infrastructure to the site.

The city does not have any grant opportunities right now for future phases of the park, but Ableman said when grant opportunities come along, they will certainly be applying for them.

The plan for phase two, provided the city has enough funding, is to add two more baseball fields to the two that will already be there from phase one, creating a fourplex. They also hope to add areas for soccer fields and a walking trail.

Mark Schuller, the interim director of parks and recreation in Cheney, said there are no guarantees for what future phases of the park may look like. The city just has to make sure the baseball fields are complete, the parking lot is finished, a restroom is in place and the park is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Schuller added that one of the two fields will be a challenger baseball field for children with special needs, which will be the only one of its kind in the area. The extra fields will also allow the city to host baseball tournaments that could potentially help the local economy.

Ableman said the city kept the future in mind while designing the park.

“The park is really based on projecting the city’s needs as we grow over the next 20 years,” Ableman said.

“We’re excited about getting the project going,” Schuller said. “It’s been a long time coming.”