Pop quiz: Who owned Stan Hedwall Park in Chehalis from 1971 to January of this year?
If you said the city of Chehalis, you would actually be wrong.
The state of Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services owned the land the park sits on.
But after four decades, the often-used, well-known park just west of Interstate 5 on Rice Road now belongs to the city. Monday afternoon, Chehalis Mayor Dennis Dawes presided over a brief ceremony celebrating the city’s new ownership of the park its citizens have utilized for years.
Dawes read a proclamation accepting what is basically a zero-dollar legal transaction that took place in January, giving the former state-owned property to the city. He recalled his own personal memories at the popular recreational destination.
“About 50 years ago, we used to come down here and go swimming. We shared it with the cows, but we made sure to swim upstream from them,” Dawes said, eliciting laughter from a small crowd. “I’ve used this park for years.”
Stan Hedwall Park, named after a former Lewis County commissioner, was once pasture land for Green Hill School before Interstate 5 was even being planned. The land was home to a farm that students there worked on.
The property was deeded to DSHS in 1971, with the state then leasing it back to the city of Chehalis in 1972.
Beginning in November 2012, state officials, including Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, worked with the Lewis County Assessor’s Office, local title companies and the city of Chehalis to ensure the park was deeded back over to the city. Dawes also thanked local resident Paul Walker for having a hand in those discussions.
DSHS deeded the property to the city of Chehalis in January, and the park now goes on the city’s records as property it formally owns.
Ruth Peterson, who works in Braun’s office and stood in for him Monday during the ceremony, said Stan Hedwall Park maintains a special spot in her heart as a local resident.
“It’s the first park I think of when I think of a big picnic or a family reunion,” Peterson said.
Christopher Brewer: (360) 807-8235