Hundreds of people showed up to the dedication ceremony and grand opening of the new Lake Stevens Community Park last Saturday.
Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, Lake Stevens Mayor Vern Little, County Councilmembers John Koster and Dave Somers along with other elected officials from the county and Lake Stevens joined the Lake Stevens Junior Athletic Association (LSJAA), friends and family of Gary Cease and others for the opening. Baseball game started at 8 a.m. with the dedication festivities beginning at 10 a.m. at the park located at 1601 N. Machias Road.
“The Lake Stevens Community Park is a wonderful amenity to the county park system,” Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon said. “It offers new ball fields for the youth of Snohomish County while providing volunteer opportunities for community groups.”
Property for the park was originally purchased from Roesler Timber Company in 1996 with the assistance of the LSJAA. Following years of community design input and master planning, construction of the park began in 2008 at a cost of $4.3 million. Funding for the project included park impact mitigation fees, real-estate excise tax and a grant from the State of Washington Recreation Conservation Office.
A memorial was dedicated to long-time Lake Stevens resident Gary Cease who spent countless hours mentoring, coaching and working with kids in this community.
“Today is a different kind of day for Gary, he liked to operate in the background,” Jeremy Cain, Cease’s stepson said at the dedication. “He was not just a coach, he was a mentor. He could give any kid hope.” Cease served 28 years as a coach, referee, mentor and ambassador for youth baseball, football and wrestling. He assisted the baseball and football little leagues as well as the middle and high school wrestling programs in Lake Stevens. He was a former president of the Lake Stevens Junior Athletic Association and Greater Snohomish County Youth Football League and served with the Lake Stevens Parks and Recreation Board. Cease died November 11, 2008.
After the dedication, a ceremonial first pitch was thrown at the same time on all three ballfields—a feat not tried before, according to organizers.
The LSJAA will open and close the park, assume maintenance and operation responsibilities and help coordinate sports at the park for more than 2,500 young people participating in baseball, softball, football, soccer, cheerleading and basketball.
The park also includes Glen Anderson’s mosaic artwork, funded through the county’s one percent for the arts program.