Illustrating the power of vision, cooperation, and public purpose

Editor’s note: On Tuesday, June 3 Lloyd Halverson, Camas City Administrator from 1989 to 2013, received the Florence B. Wager Leading Eagle Award at the Parks Foundation luncheon at the Vancouver Hilton. His acceptance speech is printed below.

It is a great honor to receive this recognition, named for such an inspirational person. I recall Florence’s kind words of encouragement and support, as well as her smile. It is also special for me to be nominated for this award by Mayor Scott Higgins and City Administrator Pete Capell, with supportive letters from Bill Barron, Roger Knapp, Brent Erickson and Bill Dygert, all of whom have done much to support and promote parks, open space and trails.

I am personally very happy that my wife, Ulrike and son Erik are here today. Ulrike and our daughters and sons have been steady support over a professional career of four decades.

Let me highlight the achievements in Camas, with acknowledgement of the teams and community efforts which brought us this far. The partnerships were key to what has been accomplished; the collaborations were a joy; and the work always a “labor of love.”

Local government leadership can be a very special opportunity. This is most effective when it mobilizes authority and resources in service of a vision; and I’ll note that in a summary way. Finally, my theme is that each person can make a positive difference — and this is an opportunity and a challenge for all of us.

First, the achievements: Starting with a good base, Camas added parks, designed and acquired an open space network, and built parks and trails. The results include a community total of upwards of 1,550 acres of park and open space, a robust system of parks — large and small — and more than 25 miles of trails. Three comparisons may help visualize the team’s achievements:

o Portland’s open space with the jewel of Forest Park’s 5,157 acres is widely regarded as a model and a delight. On a per capita basis, Camas’s 22,000 people have more open space than Portland’s residents.

o Another well known park, designed by the Olmstead firm, is Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. It is an exceptional city park, mixing open spaces, trails, playgrounds, and varied museums. The scale of Golden Gate Park is 1,017 acres. Camas’ total park/open space acreage is 1,550-plus.

o Lithia Park in Ashland, Ore., is a gem in a community of about 20,000 people. Perhaps you have also visited this forested park with varied functions, located in the heart of community. It is 100 acres in size. The scale of the Fallen Leaf Lake park area in Camas is comparable.

Perhaps these examples help to visualize the achievements. Our people enjoy the exceptional results of the team’s efforts.

Second, the partners: There are so many. They include the elected leaders — mayors and councils. Thank you Mayors Nan Henriksen, Dean Dossett, Paul Dennis and Scott Higgins. The Camas Parks Commission was a steady supporter. Quality staff performed well in their tasks. They included department heads and line staff. Thanks to Jerry Acheson, Doug Quinn, Gary Stockhoff, Marty Snell, Phil Bourquin, Monte Brachmann, Eric Levison, Krista Bashaw, Kristin Berquist, Anita Ashton, Jim Hodges, Ronda Syverson, Wes Heigh, Curleigh Carothers, Jeff Englund, Leisha Copsey, Martha Altfilish, and so many others.

Ken Powell was the chief designer of the vital 1980’s park plan. City Attorney Roger Knapp was there for legal advice and documentation every step of the way. Staff’s work was often supplemented by the professional assistance of contract consultants; appraisers, designers, engineers, builders. Special thanks to Mark Lawwill, Jim Walsh, and all those who provided their professional expertise.

Other partners included the county, especially Bill Dygert, Bill Barron, Pat McDonnell, Pete Mayer, and Commissioners Judy Stanton, Marc Boldt, Craig Pridemore and Betty Sue Morris. State and federal funding sources were critical to many purchases and projects, including the Washougal River Greenway. Sen. Joe Zarelli and the late Reps. Val Ogden and Bill Fromhold were especially effective advocates at the State Legislature. The Parks Foundation is a good partner; and the Columbia Land Trust has been a very cooperative player. A salute to Cheri Martin, Glenn Lamb and friends.

Private parties were critical to the successes. They included Camas families with names of: Tidland, MacKay, Baz, Peery, Blake, Morash, Schmid and Farrell. Developers took part, and included Tom Shippler, David Lugliani, Dan Olin, Rick and Cassie Marshall and Mic Deines.

The mill and it’s “parent corporations” played an important role as a major landowner. Mill managers Russ McCallister, Andy Ellsberry, Mike Wendling and Jim Cadd, as well as Mike Murphy of GP in Atlanta were instrumental in numerous transfers — examples were parcels totaling over 150 acres adjacent to the lakes.

Thanks to the named private partners, and others to numerous to name.

Third, about local government’s key role: This was central to the success. The city was the natural coordination point of this strategic work. Initiated by Mayor Nan Henriksen’s overall vision of a prosperous, livable community, the city sustained the goal of a “preferred future.” Nan’s “picture” of the future Camas, included great parks, trails and preserved open spaces. The choice was to plan growth, and the results show. Camas was not “run over” by unplanned development.

My experience is that a local government which is willing to commit resources and authority to a vision can achieve stunning results. Thanks to the leadership, partners, and community for sustaining, funding, and supporting the vision.

The Florence B. Wager Leading Eagle Award means a lot to me. I’m grateful for the opportunities and the recognition. Camas’ achievements and the abbreviated story of the team and the partnerships illustrate the power of vision, cooperation, and public purpose.

It shows that each person can make a positive difference. With patience, persistence and good hearts, I hope you will carry that message forward in your words and in your deeds.