Submitted by the City of Bellingham, written by Nicole Oliver
At long last, the City of Bellingham has opened the first community park in the fast-growing north end of the city. Cordata Park, located between Stuart and Horton roads on Cordata Parkway, opened today (Friday, Sept. 4, 2020) for partial public use just in time for Labor Day weekend.
“It is my great honor to celebrate the opening of Cordata Park, a milestone that represents the commitment, hard work, and vision of so many,” Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood said. “More than 8,000 people now live within one mile of this long-awaited northside park. It will be of enormous benefit to the residents of this fast-growing area, today and in the future. This park also is a great example of our community identifying a need and taking the steps and providing the resources to meet that need. Thank you to everyone who made it happen.”
A small ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Thursday, Sept. 3 — following all restrictions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — to memorialize the park’s opening. Julie Guy, a prominent northside park proponent and Cordata Neighborhood advocate, did the honor of cutting the ribbon.
Cordata Park is a 25-acre northside gem that includes nearly a mile of popular trails, which have been open since May. While the park has extensive new recreation amenities, some of them remain closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The first phase of Cordata Park is now complete, including a splash pad, multiple fully accessible playground features, an adult-sized Twister game, artwork, adult exercise equipment, a parkour obstacle course, a paved pump track, a large picnic shelter, a restroom and parking for 71 cars.
Consistent with other parks in the City, the playground, adult exercise equipment and parkour areas will remain fenced off due to COVID-19 restrictions.
During the Beyond Greenways campaign in the late 1990s, levy proponents identified the inequity of park and open space between the newer north and established south parts of town. In response to this need, in 2008 the City purchased and planned Julianna Park (formerly known as Cordata Neighborhood Park), a 20-acre mostly wooded area west of Cordata Park. An extensive trail system and open lawn area were developed, but additional park infrastructure had to wait for the Horton Road extension project now underway.
The need for a developed park remained, and community pressure increased along with new housing growth in the area.
In 2015, the City purchased the property for Cordata Park for $3.6 million. A robust public planning process occurred to develop the master plan, followed by the design phase completed by RW Droll. Jonathan Schilk, Parks and Recreation Department landscape architect, managed the design and construction with steadfast care and enthusiasm. Complicated by wetlands, the site planning was complex to ensure the amenities identified in the master plan could fit on the site with minimal environmental impacts.
Strider Construction won the bid for the project and began Phase 1 work in June 2019. Many contractors were involved in the project, including: RW Droll, RMC Architects, GeoEngineers, Northwest Ecological Services, MC Squared engineers, Herrera Environmental, Cross Engineers, TENW traffic engineers, Enginuity Systems and Hood River Engineers.
In October 2020, Matia Landscaping will plant more than 6,000 shrubs and trees in the developed park area, and in January 2021 will install an additional 8,000 plants to enhance and improve the wetland and buffer areas over time. All stormwater is captured and sent to the central stormwater facility located onsite, and stormwater from the parking area is treated before discharge.
The lighted artwork installed at the three pedestrian entrances is by Andersen Studios of Mount Vernon. Funding from the City’s 1% for the Arts program from the Stuart Street roundabout helped support artwork at Cordata Park
The total project construction cost is $6.5 million, paid for by Park Impact Fees and Greenways Program funds.
Additional amenities at the south end of the park will be added in Phase 2, including a park pavilion, amphitheater, picnic shelter, basketball and pickleball courts and additional parking.
For more details, see the Cordata Park webpage.