Big changes in small-town Battle Ground

Recession has limited effects on development, road projects

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

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Battle Ground

• Population: 17,400.

• Must see: Battle Ground Lake State Park, skate park, annual Harvest Days.

• Website: http://www.cityofbg.org.

While the city of Battle Ground continues to add big-city amenities, it still retains its small-town feel.

The second-largest city in Clark County has experienced explosive growth in the last 10 years. As people flocked to the city, businesses followed. In 2000, about 9,300 people lived in the city; a decade later, the population was estimated to be 17,400. And despite the recession, new businesses continued to open in Battle Ground.

Construction of Battle Ground Village, a 21-acre mixed-use development located at Southeast Rasmussen Boulevard and Southeast Commerce Avenue, began a few years ago and is ongoing. A few more businesses opened in 2010. So far, the village has nearly two dozen businesses up and running, ranging from a coffee shop to a steakhouse, a hair salon to a clothing boutiques.

Vancouver Clinic opened the doors to its new $12 million, 48,000-square-foot building last November. The new clinic replaced the older building located on Main Street and houses family practice, physical therapy and urgent care departments. It also offers internal medicine, ob-gyn, pediatrics and expanded imaging and lab suites.

Action by the city council in November 2010 is also expected to spur economic development. The council approved the sale of $5.2 million in bonds in order to extend Scotton Way west from Highway 503 to Southwest 20th Avenue. The extension and addition of a traffic signal at Highway 503 and Scotton Way will give the city an east-west arterial and pave the way for economic development. Two developers owning property near the intersection predict their developments will create about 700 jobs.

Design and engineering of the project has already begun. Construction of the roadway is scheduled to begin in late 2011, with completion expected in 2012.

Another big road project looms in the future: widening almost five miles of Highway 502 (also known as 219th Street) to four lanes and installing a concrete median from the Interstate 5 interchange east toward Battle Ground. The Washington Department of Transportation is in the process of acquiring pieces of properties along Highway 502 to make room for the widened road. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2012 at a cost of about $88 million.

The I-5 interchange providing access to Battle Ground opened in October 2008. The increased traffic on the two-lane highway highlighted the need for the widening project to improve safety, according to WSDOT.

The city also wrapped up a $1.7 million improvement project on North Parkway Avenue in 2010 and moved forward with plans for $4 million to 5 million in improvements to a portion of Grace Avenue. Design of the project will wrap up this year, and construction is expected to begin in early 2012. The second phase of the project will follow.

In recent years, the city has also constructed a skate park, community center and library.

The city’s 25,000-square-foot skate park draws visitors from Portland to Seattle. The park, which opened in June 2007, is a sign of the city’s emerging interest in bringing more outdoor tourist activities to Battle Ground.

The park was joined in late 2008 by a community event center. The multipurpose facility gives residents options for large indoor gatherings. The 12,000-square-foot center has a room with seating for about 260, commercial kitchen space and rooms to host smaller events. The center earned the city the Clark County Community Pride Design Award in 2009.

And then, in May 2009, a new 13,000-square-foot library opened in the Battle Ground Village development.

In October 2010, the city council approved the annexation of 98 acres southwest of the city. The eastern border of the previously unincorporated area is Northeast 112th Avenue; to the south is Northeast 199th Street. The annexation added 117 residents to city limits.

Other annexation proposals are also in the works and will come before the council this year.