Bender Climbing

One of two climbing boulders is installed in its permanent place at Bender Fields on Thursday, Sept. 19. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)

Ball courts, climbing boulders, lights all part of Mt. Baker Rotary project going on 

LYNDEN ­— The entire project won’t be completed until next spring, but people will soon have access to the new climbing boulders and basketball courts being put in at Bender Fields.

The project, aimed to  benefit all children in the area, was envisioned by the Mount Baker Rotary Club earlier this year, but the creation is now.

Club president Jeff Roberts said the size is proving bigger than he ever imagined. 

“I’ve seen it on paper for the last six months, every single drawing of it and all of the blueprints and even the paint on the seals,” Roberts said. “Once you get the big earthwork equipment out and you see how much earth is being moved and the size of it, it’s really impressive to see those guys working.”

Originally, the goal was to add only the climbing boulders and (three) basketball courts to Bender before anything else, but then the club promptly raised $100,000 more to put in pickleball courts and beach volleyball courts. 

Mount Baker Rotary has raised $247,000 toward the project so far, with $103,000 of that coming from the annual auction in April. An additional $50,000 is still being sought and with that committed, Roberts said lights can be added to the pickleball courts and beach volleyball court.

Play area

Equipment of all types was busy at it on the new play area site of Bender Fields on Saturday. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune)

Permits for the project were received last Wednesday, Sept. 18, and work started on Thursday. By Thursday evening, the climbing boulders were in their permanent spot at Bender.

“The project is well on its way,” Roberts said. “We’ve got the boulders in place and we hope to have the sports courts done in early to mid-October.”

In addition to cash donations, Roberts said, $76,000 worth of services is also being donated to the project. 

“LTI donated the shipping of the boulders from Colorado and that was awesome,” he said. “I could list 10 people that are out there donating today. Honcoop Gravel is donating the gravel and some excavating. DeKoster Excavating donated some equipment. Even Reichardt & Ebe and Freeland & Associates is donating the engineering.”

Roberts said Northwest Surveying is doing the surveying of the area for free as well. 

People and businesses may still donate to the project if they wish to. Roberts said Mount Baker Rotary leaders still have a wish list of things they’d like to include in the park.

“What’s left is buying the basketball hoops, park benches and picnic tables, and there’s a price associated with all of those,” he said. “That’s where people who are considering giving can understand where their money is being spent.”

Final aspects such as sport court surfaces, painting and landscaping won’t be done until next April or May, but some use of the new facilities will be available to the public soon. 

“This fall we should have the climbing rocks open and the basketball hoops up,” Roberts said. “There won’t be lines painted, but people can still shoot hoops this fall or play pickleball. The surface of the courts won’t be finished until next spring, but the nets and hoops will be up.”