Field of Dreams

"By this fall, North Whidbey athletes will have 20 pristine acres where they can kick balls, throw passes and hit line drives.Oak Harbor Park Manager Hank Nydam said that the first phase of Fort Nugent Park is nearing completion and will be ready for a September kick-off. The grass is growing strong on five soccer fields, a youth football field and a full-size baseball field. Once complete, Nydam said the new fields will mean local youth teams will no longer have to scramble to find places to play.The park is designed as a regional field complex, but it truly came from the heart of the community. Nydam said a wide array of organizations, agencies, businesses and individuals put their sweat and dollars into getting the park built.The park is made up of two 20-acre parcels, one owned by the city and one by the school district. The parcel that is being completed this summer is school property, but the district gave the city a free 25-year lease on the land.For six weeks last summer, Marines from Wing Support Squadron 473 surveyed and grated the acreage, bringing in equipment from all over the country. Nydam said the federal government budgeted $100,000 for the Marine Corps' efforts, but the actual work was worth much more to the city.In addition, Island County contributed $130,000 for the park, since it's designed to serve the entire island.There's also community contributions. Jet City Equipment donated about $50,000 worth of equipment use. Island Thrift donated $30,000.Other major donors, according to Nydam, include Oak Harbor Youth Soccer, Oak Harbor Rotary, Sunrise Rotary, Oak Harbor Youth Football, Coachman Inn, Puget Sound Energy, North Whidbey Lions, and Fakkema and Kingma.This summer, the city public works staff is completing the parking area and a contractor is surrounding the park with fencing. The Oak Harbor Garden Club will do some landscaping at the site.All the donations mean that the park hasn't cost the city any general revenue funds, but was partially paid for out of developer impact fees. These same fees will eventually fund the next two phases of park construction, but Nydam said that work is at least a couple of years out.In the second phase of the project, the other 20 acres of park land will be developed into three more softball fields. A rest room and picnic shelters will also be built.In the third phase, more multi-use fields will be put in."

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