Major Improvements Coming to Cochrane Memorial Park

By Eric Rosane
Posted 2/17/21

Some substantial improvements are coming to one of Yelm’s favorite parks.  Over the next year, residents who frequent Cochrane Memorial Park, located at 750 Mill Road, can expect to see …

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Major Improvements Coming to Cochrane Memorial Park


Some substantial improvements are coming to one of Yelm’s favorite parks.  

Over the next year, residents who frequent Cochrane Memorial Park, located at 750 Mill Road, can expect to see construction crews and sections of the park closed down as contractors work to install new restrooms, rebuild the park’s main bridge, make multiple pond and landscape improvements and install a new gazebo. 

The park — in addition to being the city government’s premier wedding destination, hosting an average of a dozen weddings each year — is one of a few sites where reclaimed water from the city’s wastewater treatment facility is pumped out to. 

Public Works Director Cody Colt said the main reason the city is moving forward with these upgrades is to increase the capacity of reclaimed water the park takes into its rapid infiltration basins, which works to recharge the ground aquifer. 

Roughly 50,000 gallons of water per day is currently pumped to the park, and these upgrades will allow the park to take up to five times that amount daily. 

The park is currently open and will remain so through the upgrades, though certain sections of the park over the next year will be subject to closure. This project is being done in two phases, with the first starting this winter and the second being done next winter. 

“It’s nice to see us finally having the right team in place with the right plan and the right funding to take care of these issues we’ve needed to tend to for quite a long while,” Mayor JW Foster said in a statement. “Once completed, this ‘park’ will once again be the finest example of a wastewater treatment system in the state (by) taking care of our citizens and the environment at the same time.” 

The city was due to open bids for the project on Friday, Feb. 12. The project is budgeted to cost upwards of $400,000, Colt said, but the city is expecting that a competitive bid market brought on by the coronavirus recession will result in a lower cost. They’re hoping for somewhere around $300,000. 

“People are looking for work, so it’s a great time for projects,” Colt said. 

The contract will come forward to the council for approval at a meeting set for Tuesday, Feb. 23. 

During a Feb. 2 Yelm City Council meeting, city Project Manager Patrick Hughes told the council that the park would be undergoing many changes over the next month. 

Hughes said the contractors will get to work immediately on the front half of the park by rebuilding the bridge, making landscape improvements, making improvements to one of the ponds and installing a restroom building. 

The new restrooms will feature lighting and exterior security cameras to deter vandalism. 

The second phase of the project, due to start winter 2022, will be more subtle. 

Colt said the second phase focuses on improvements to the park’s rapid infiltration basins, as well as improvements to the fountain pond near the bridges and two other ponds. 

“Most people don’t even know they’re there because they’re so filled with gunk,” Colt said of the smaller ponds. 

A gazebo for weddings will also be installed during the second phase. Colt said in 2020 the city had six reservations for wedding activities at the park. That number is usually twice as high in non-pandemic years. 

Both Cochrane Memorial Park and the water reclamation facility were constructed in the 1990s. Yelm customers’ wastewater is treated at the city’s water treatment facility, with the resulting product being pumped out to local sources, including Cochrane. 

The facility produces class A reclaimed water, which was a first-of-its-kind system for the state back when Yelm constructed it.


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