Heavy machinery ripped apart a piece of Thurston County’s history Tuesday.
The covered grandstands at Nisqually Ballpark — a 16-acre property at 425 Marvin Road SE that has gone by numerous names, including Skyhawks Park, Dream Team Park and Bucknell Field — are being demolished this week as part of an improvement project by North Thurston Public Schools, which owns the ballfields.
“Our top priority is to ensure that the property is safe for public use,” said Monty Sabin, North Thurston’s assistant superintendent of operations.
The demolition will cost about $115,000, officials say.
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The park closed in August 2015 when the district terminated a lease with the nonprofit Dream Team Delivers.
Last winter, the school district hired AHBL to conduct a needs assessment of the property. According to the firm’s field report obtained by The Olympian, engineers found the following issues, among others:
▪ Grandstands have deteriorated structural framing, and a failing roof.
▪ Mold and mildew was found in the park’s administrative building.
▪ The building’s restrooms did not meet code.
▪ Dugouts have dry rot and roofs at risk of partial collapse.
In an earlier report prepared for the district by Schools Insurance Association of Washington, a risk control representative noted that the complex’s fields were greatly deteriorated, and that the artificial turf had outlived its expected lifespan and needed to be replaced.
“This land, and in this location, is a valuable asset to the district and community, but the current condition makes it a liability to the district,” the report stated.
In January 2013, the school district considered putting up the park for sale. District officials described it as “surplus property” and were poised to enter a brokerage agreement to list the property for $750,000.
But School Board members shelved that proposal, saying they would rather reach out to the city and other groups so that the community could continue using the facility.
The district has been in talks with the city of Lacey to manage the fields in the future. Funding sources to redevelop the park have not yet been identified, district officials say.
On Tuesday, the mostly barn-red grandstands where countless families watched baseball games and other events for nearly 35 years groaned and creaked as the structure was munched by a pair of excavators.
Bruce Love, who has lived in the neighborhood since March, stopped by to watch part of the demolition.
“Hopefully it will get some use when they get it remodeled,” he said. “It looks like it’s just a little bit out of date.”