Construction began this week on Morrill Meadows Park and East Hill Park in Kent, part of a larger project that will culminate with the opening of the Kent YMCA next year.

The work will combine the two parks and improve Morrill Meadows Park, adding new trails and paths plus play area improvements. The open and enclosed dog park spaces, which presently form the bulk of Morrill Meadows Park, will be relocated when park construction is completed in 2020.

Kent YMCA

Image courtesy of City of Kent.

Because of the improvements, which will close the eastern edge of the park and create a single space that includes Morrill Meadows Park, the YMCA, and East Hill Park, the city has relocated the dog park roughly a mile east, according to a news release. The temporary facility includes separate small and large dog areas and waste disposal facilities, but no water.

Much of the rest of Morrill Meadows Park, including the picnic shelter and playground, a forested trail and most of the great lawn, are unaffected by the construction and remain open.

In addition to the YMCA building, the renovated park space on Kent’s East Hill will include a new multi-use sport court, additional paths and trails, a small lawn, and an amphitheater. The YMCA and an adjacent plaza space will sit near the center of the complex.

“This project represents the collective effort of community members, legislators, volunteers, supporters and our YMCA partners who recognize the need for a state-of-the-art, recreational facility in our community,” said Julie Parascondola, Kent’s director of parks, recreation and community services. “We are excited to get started on the improvements to Merrill Meadows and to combine it with East Hill Park to better serve our residents and offer this very unique indoor/outdoor recreational experience.”

The YMCA, which received several million dollars in state and county funding, is responsible for covering the construction costs of the 50,000-square-foot facility that will include a pool, other fitness spaces, and youth enrichment programs. The City of Kent is responsible only for park upgrades and some frontage improvements, according to the release.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held July 21.