The light poles are up and the synthetic turf is in place at Big Finn Hill Park’s new $1.8 million sports field, on schedule to be finished by late November.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Steve Lytle, vice president of Kirkland Lacrosse, who helped steer the project through multiple potholes over the last 20 months. “I was up there (Wednesday) and saw the turf down for the first time. It looks great.”
Kirkland Lacrosse proposed the upgrade to the formerly soggy grass field at the 220-acre park as part of King County Parks’ Community Partnerships program. Group officials say the growing sport of youth lacrosse lacks locations because of a serious shortage of sports fields on the Eastside. Although the park is in Kirkland, it is owned and managed by King County Parks.
Ironically, the field will be finished in the middle of the off-season for lacrosse. The first actual lacrosse game on the new field is scheduled for March 9.
“We’ll have access to the field as early at the first of December,” Lytle said. “We may have some clinics in December. But our seasons starts in earnest Jan. 15 (with practices), so that’s when we’ll really start using it.”
The project drew considerable concern among neighbors of the largely forested park and others who use it regularly. Many feared it would bring too much noise, particularly at night, it would increase traffic, cause intrusive glare from the lights and be inconsistent with the atmosphere of the park. Some of the concerns were addressed through changes in plans, but some neighbors remain opposed.
“My sincere hope is that a year from now this field will be part of the community and all the feuding will be done,” Lytle said.
The field will be used by Kirkland Lacrosse teams primarily over three months of the year, and the rest of the year it will be available for soccer or other activities. The field will remain fully open to the public, except when reserved for use by various sports groups.
Kirkland Lacrosse plans to pay for the upgrade over time through donations, player fees and rental fees it will be allowed to charge for a limited number of hours it would get for that purpose under the agreement with the county. Small amounts of public money are coming from grants through the county's partnership program, and $150,000 in state funds secured for the upgrade last year by state Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond.
For several previous Kirkland Patch stories on the project, click here.