More than 100 people attended the grand opening of a local recreation project that had been several years in the making.
Washougal Waterfront Park and Trail, owned by the Port of Camas-Washougal, opened Sept. 23, at the former Hambleton Lumber Company property at 335 S. “A” St.
Standing behind a lectern decorated by a banner that proclaimed, “It’s our nature to celebrate,” Port Executive Director David Ripp said he had already run on the trail.
He described the area as an open canvas. Land nearby, owned by Parker’s Landing LLC, is expected to eventually include a mixed-use development with retail, commercial and residential buildings.
Ripp acknowledged the presence of several members of the Hambleton family at the ceremony.
Former Port Commissioner Mark Lampton was mentioned by several of the speakers including Ripp. Lampton died in August 2015. A plaque in his memory is installed next to one of the park benches.
“I’m sure he would be sharing the pride we feel,” said Port Commissioner Bill Ward.
The park includes a picnic shelter, interpretive signage, lighting and kayak access. There are solar panels on the restrooms building.
John Snyder, an outdoor recreation and economic development policy advisor with Gov. Jay Inslee’s office, said he was pleased to see the standing-room-only crowd show up for a park and trail opening.
“This is my kind of town,” he said.
Funding for the park and trail included $1.2 million from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and $500,000 from the State Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account Program.
The total project cost of $3.4 million includes $1.7 million from the port.
BergerABAM was the architect, and Tapani, Inc. served as the general contractor.
Larry Keister, a member of the Washougal Waterfront Committee, said the park and trail will provide recreational and economic benefits for the area.
“The Waterfront Trail will join the Lacamas trail system, The Washougal to Stevenson Trail and the Towns to Trails project, to create a destination for tourists and local residents,” he said. “The trail will be a location of community events, a gathering place for our community.
“It will link Camas and Washougal,” Keister added. “People can walk from Camas to the port, along the dike to Washougal and on to Steigerwald Wildlife Refuge.”
As the grand opening ceremony continued, a bicyclist rode by on the 12-foot wide concrete path, and a child walked next to his mother on the compass-shaped plaza.
Dan Miller, with the National Parks Service, had facilitated the Waterfront Committee.
During the grand opening, he recalled how the park and trail site once featured gravel and blackberry bushes.
“This will promote a healthy, active lifestyle,” Miller said.
Dan Kent, with Salmon Safe, Inc., presented a plaque about the park and trail’s Salmon-Safe certified status to Ripp.
In order to be certified, the area has to have drought-tolerant plants and receive minimal pesticide input. Stormwater is treated on site.
Washougal Mayor Sean Guard described the new recreation site as “absolutely stunning.”
“We appreciate the gift you’ve given to all of us,” he said to port officials.
Sam Robinson, vice chairman of the Chinook Indian Tribe, and his wife, Mildred, a Chinook family member and dancer, performed two blessing songs.
After the ceremony, Rebecca Lawson, the Washington State Department of Ecology regional section manager of the Toxics Cleanup Program, said she was pleased the property will be reused “for the betterment of the whole community.”
The port is creating a Waterfront Environmental Stewardship Committee, to minimize invasive species and preserve the park and trail. To participate, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the port’s parks, visit www.portwaterfrontparks.com.