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May 31, 2020

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Woodland group digs into YMCA plan

Motel being demolished to make way for new facility

By , Columbian Staff Writer
Published:
3 Photos
West Coast Training excavator operator Josh McClure demolishes one of the rooms at the defunct Lakeside Motel, where the Woodland Community Swimming Pool Committee plans on building a YMCA, with construction expected to start in 2020. Cowlitz Fire District No. 1 and Woodland Fire Department sprayed water on the motel to keep dust and lead paint particles down.
West Coast Training excavator operator Josh McClure demolishes one of the rooms at the defunct Lakeside Motel, where the Woodland Community Swimming Pool Committee plans on building a YMCA, with construction expected to start in 2020. Cowlitz Fire District No. 1 and Woodland Fire Department sprayed water on the motel to keep dust and lead paint particles down. Photo Gallery

WOODLAND — To celebrate the next major step toward bringing a YMCA to Woodland, Benno Dobbe wanted to put on a big show Wednesday night, but he ran into one tough issue.

The Lakeside Motel, built some 70-plus years ago, is still pretty sturdy.

Dobbe, president of the Woodland Community Swimming Pool Committee, organized an event Wednesday to start demolishing the motel, which is the site for the upcoming YMCA.

“I tried to swing a sledgehammer at it this afternoon, but the thing didn’t budge,” Dobbe said. “I’m still pretty strong, but that wasn’t working.”

Luckily, the pool committee already invited West Coast Training to the event, so when roughly 200 people showed up to watch a demolition, they got to see some demolishing.

West Coast brought an excavator and a loader to start taking apart one of the motel buildings, even inviting kids in attendance to ride in the vehicles while they were in use. The kids lined up to wait their turns, letting out cheers and applause with each large chunk the excavator’s claw bit out of the motel.

While the ceremonial demolition was a next step toward the YMCA, Dobbe said construction won’t start until the building is fully funded. He said the preliminary number the committee is looking at is around $7 million, which he thinks they can raise in the next year and a half between fundraisers, matching donations and grant money. That would mean construction starts around 2020.

Even with construction not scheduled to start for another couple years, Dobbe said it was important for the project and the community to start taking down the motel.

“We have all the ingredients to get our funding in full swing,” he said. “Let’s start by taking a section out of this building and showing we’re for real.”

The rest of the motel is expected to be demolished on June 15, when the committee will host another public event to watch it being taken down. Dobbe said so far five people have pledged $700 each to drive a construction vehicle at the June 15 event.

The pool committee purchased the 2.8-acre property for $800,000 in 2013, shortly after the motel shut down. It was technically still in use up until late April, as West Coast Training used the site as housing for students in its program, which teaches those looking to start a career in outdoor construction.

When the crew opened up enough of the motel on Wednesday, kids in the crowd laughed while pointing out mattresses and chairs in the rubble.

When the 30,000-square-foot Woodland YMCA is open, the pool committee will transfer the land to the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette, which will operate the facility and own the property. Dobbe said the building will have the same amenities as the Clark County Family YMCA in Vancouver with one notable exception, especially given the organizing group’s name: a pool.

In November, more than 53 percent of voters in Woodland came out against a measure to let the Woodland Swimming Pool and Recreation District use nearly $8 million in bond money to build the pool and recreation facility. Dobbe said the committee is still determined to bring a pool to Woodland. He owns nearly an acre of adjoining property to the Lakeside Motel property, and said once the YMCA project is fully funded, he will donate the property to the YMCA to build a pool there.

“It’s going to happen,” Dobbe said. “That’s what (Wednesday night) was all about. This is a step. This is going to change the area forever.”

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