Cities should team on community recreation

With the cities of Camas and Washougal both examining recreation opportunities for residents, it would be prudent to consider working together.

The Camas City Council this month approved a $66,701 contract with Greenworks PC, a Portland-based landscaping company, to conduct an audit and develop a master plan for Crown Park and pool. Washougal, meanwhile, has approved a deal worth up to $85,585 with Portland-based Opsis Architecture LLP to conduct a feasibility study on a new community center.

The agreements are necessitated by the aging facilities in both cities. Crown Park, a 7.3-acre outlay up the hill from downtown Camas, is home to a pool that has served residents since 1954. City manager Pete Capell told The Columbian last year: “We have an aging swimming pool that we are holding together. It’s expensive to maintain. At this point, we don’t have anything concrete, except that the community uses and loves the pool. It’s a priority to maintain a pool in Camas.”

In Washougal, city leaders are pondering the future of the Washougal Community Center, which was built in the 1970s. The feasibility study from Opsis, to be completed in June, is expected to examine possible combinations of a community center, a recreation center, and a pool.

With both cities exploring how best to serve growing populations for the present and for the future, it makes sense for officials to consider joining forces and developing facilities that cater to all residents in the area. A decade ago, Opsis performed preliminary work on a Camas-Washougal community center, and Washougal leaders have said some informal discussions have taken place with Camas this time around.

It would be natural for residents to desire facilities close to home. One of the benefits of the pool at Crown Park, Camas officials say, is that it is easily accessible on foot or by bike for many residents. Yet the reality is that building and maintaining a community pool can be prohibitively expensive for a single small city. In addition, many Camas residents have nostalgic affection for their municipal pool, the only outdoor public pool in the county — but outdoor pools make little economic sense given their limited use throughout the year.

Both cities are wise to seek feedback on providing amenities for residents. But they also would be wise to share notes.