Garbage and parking issues cause concerns at Washougal parks

Mayor Sean Guard said police officers will write tickets for infractions

Jay Hill cooled off in the Washougal River Monday afternoon after work, as temperatures soared to the mid-80s.

He was among the area residents enjoying the water at the Sandy Swimming Hole, in Washougal.

Hill grew up in Portland and has visited the swimming hole and Dougan Falls, also in Washougal, for more than 20 years.

He moved just down the road from the swimming hole less than a year ago.

Hill spent part of his morning picking up plastic water bottles, potato chip bags, cigarette butts and styrofoam cups, in the park’s parking lot.

“That stuff is not biodegradable,” he said. “That won’t go away.

“I wish people would pick up after themselves,” Hill added.

On previous occasions, he and his son have found clothing items and one shoe at the park.

Since Hill lives close to the Sandy Swimming Hole, finding a place to park is not an issue for him, but it can be for others.

There are 18 parking spaces at the park site.

Chelsea Grover, of Camas, was also at the Sandy Swimming Hole, Monday. She said the amount of available parking is an issue.

Grover was pleased with the overall appearance of the park.

“It stays pretty nice, for the amount of people who use it,” she said. “It’s family friendly.”

In August 2014, the Washougal City Council voted 4 to 2, against purchasing land from Riverside Seventh-day Adventist Church, to create a park and overflow parking for users of the Sandy Swimming Hole.

It would have involved purchasing less than one acre of land for $130,000 at 463 N. Shepherd Road — across the street from the park. Development costs for creating a park and parking lot at the site were estimated to be approximately $400,000. The lot would have included 23 parking stalls.

An overflow parking lot, which had been available for two years, is the future site of the Crown Creek Townhomes.

Washougal Mayor Sean Guard said the city is getting an increasing number of complaints about the parks, primarily concerning the illegal use of alcohol and camp fires, as well as litter and parking issues.

“Washougal Police are already stepping up patrols in parks, especially those along the Washougal and Columbia rivers,” he said. “They are writing citations for cars parked illegally and for other infractions that they observe.”

Guard said he would prefer that people keep the parks clean and use the parks in a responsible manner, so that tickets would not have to be written.

“We will not tolerate behavior that can lead to unsafe conditions, on the roads or inside the parks,” he said. “We want our parks to be a place of enjoyment, not a place that illegal activities take place.”

Guard said the city is coordinating efforts with Clark County, to address issues such as increased police presence and availability of garbage and recycling containers at Capt. William Clark Park, 3400 S. Index St. The 80-acre regional park is also operated by the Port of Camas-Washougal.