Letters to the Editor for July 29, 2014

Replacement of Crown Park pool is a better option

In the Tuesday, July 8, edition of the Post-Record, an article highlighted the City Council workshop discussion of the possible purchase of Lacamas Swim & Sport by the City of Camas.

In that article, it also mentioned that I made public comment stating that I do not support the purchase. The following are concerns that I shared at the meeting, as well as the recommendation I made at the meeting:

1 - I do not believe that the City of Camas should be involved in owning and running a health club. It is not an essential item or need that citizens have and that taxpayers should have to financially support. It is currently offered by the private sector and should stay that way.

2 - The city has made safety and infrastructure the priorities to the benefit of our community both in essential services offered and fiscal budgeting. As a community, we have multiple infrastructure projects currently underway and planned that will require significant funding and are a top priority. I anticipate school costs will be added to our financial burden as taxpayers, as our community continues to grow.

3 - During the City Council workshop, the valuation of the club was discussed and a revised estimate of membership showed 866 members, which is just over half of what was originally outlined. City estimates to break even operationally set new membership levels at an additional 600 members. I have concerns on the new membership needed, the ability to reach this 80 percent increase goal and the overall valuation presented.

4 - There has been a recognized need for additional meeting space and the replacement of the Crown Park pool. The Lacamas Lake Lodge was recently built to provide meeting space and replacing the Crown Park pool could be accomplished at a much lower cost than the purchase of Lacamas Swim & Sport.

I hope that the replacement of the Crown Park pool can be accomplished and not the purchase of a private health club.

Tim Hein, Camas

The dream is still alive

After so many years of working toward a new community center in Camas, a great window of opportunity has opened. After years of hope and dreams, much planning and expense, we now have the possibility of finally obtaining our dreams. Not only is the window wide open for our taking, but the benefits are once-in-a-lifetime.

For close to 25 years, we have planned and looked for the perfect location that would accommodate a community center facility in Camas with adequate parking and meet the needs of our growing community. $17 million is the figure that we first looked at approximately 20 years ago. That didn’t happen because of many obstacles including cost, neighborhood and lack of parking space. Finding a location that meets all of our needs and wants has proved an impossible task. The last cost was more than $24 million.

With no resolution to the ever growing problems of space and escalating costs, we seemed even further from our dreams.

Last year, we were able to complete the lodge on Lacamas Lake. It is lovely with the view of the lake and surrounding park. This was to be phase one of our grand plan. With the purchase of the Lacamas Swim & Sport facility, we would realize phase two. The $6.5 million price tag is a fraction of what it would cost to duplicate this facility today. Needed changes and repairs are included in the purchase price.

Our aging city pool has lived a grand and extensive life. This past year, the decision was made by our city not to try and put another bandage on what would not only be a costly, but a futile attempt to keep it operational. For the pool to remain safe and in compliance with code, the cost of $1.5 million is not a good or wise investment. We could be looking at the very real possibility of having no city pool next season. It is open only a few weeks of the year. It is not large enough for our growing population. Citizens are turned away much too often, because it is filled to capacity. To say it will be missed is an understatement. Finding a new purpose and use for this space is very appealing and would again add to the livability of our city.

Having said this, the opportunity with the purchase of Lacamas Swim & Sport to have not only one, but two pools that will accommodate our citizens and be open year-round, makes a lot of sense. It would offer more opportunities for our senior citizens, youth of all ages, including school programs. Exercise rooms and all that would come with it are just and added bonus.

A question I’ve been asked by many is: “Will my Silver Sneakers and Silver Fit memberships still be available when it becomes a new community center?” The answer is, “yes.”

One of the major differences between a fitness center and a community center is that many programs that a community center offers, generating income, are not available at most fitness centers. These programs can and will reach a larger demographic than a fitness center. A fitness center’s income is often limited to membership and passes rather than programs that generate additional income. Programs can generate approximately 60 percent of your potential income, thus, not relying on passes or memberships to carry the financial load. The schools will be able to continue their swim programs. I can truly see more benefits for more of our citizens with the purchase of this facility, than waiting an additional 10 to 20 years down the road.

I hope that those that have worked hard with us over the years will let the Camas city council members know what a great opportunity we have now. Yes, there are concerns that need to be assessed, but the reality is this opportunity will not be here a year from now. You must reach out and act when the opportunity is there. To wait means that the dream will remain a dream and not a reality.

Verla Jonason, past president, Friends of the Camas Community Center

Cal Hittle is a faithful and dedicated city employee

Heather Acheson’s article about Cal Hittle’s retirement was well done and well deserved.

Our years having Cal working our area found him always pleasant and cheerful. He would always have a friendly wave and a big smile. I looked forward to seeing him on his route.

The city of Camas should be proud to have had him as a faithful and dedicated employee all these years. We wish him well in his retirement.

Jerry and Sue Lanz, Camas