Property with potential

In September 2014 the Washougal City Council voted to approve the $599,000 purchase of approximately 17 acres west of 32nd and Q streets from the Schmid family, with the goal of turning the 17.81 acre property into what will become the city’s largest park.

After going through a lengthy process, which included the removal and replacement of soil that had been contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons, the city finally closed on the purchase earlier this month. A public event marking the finalization of the land transfer is set for Thursday, Oct. 6, at 3:30 p.m.

With thorough planning, in a general sense it’s an ideal site for a park. Located along 32nd Avenue, the property is nestled within a short distance of a slew of houses, as well as Gause Elementary School and Washougal High School. Commercial developments, including grocery stores, restaurants and other businesses, are nearby.

It’s a perfect setting for a large community park, with the exception of one critical amenity: Sidewalks. This area is in desperate need of sidewalk connections that would allow pedestrians to fully navigate through the area safely up and down 32nd Street. Currently, those who would like to travel on foot from one end of it to another must either be brave enough to stumble along a narrow ribbon of grass or gravel that abuts the street or instead travel through surrounding neighborhoods, eventually landing back onto 32nd.

While the improvement and expansion of 32nd has been on the city’s street plan, making this area more pedestrian friendly now needs to be made a priority.

Washougal city leaders have worked hard for several years to make sure this property would be preserved for public use. Now comes the challenge of putting plans in place to make sure that it is accessible to all who would love the opportunity to enjoy it.