Three local parks may soon get some needed equipment upgrades, thanks to the Parks Foundation of Clark County.
The city of Camas reached out to the Foundation with a request of about $6,000 to fund a new piece of playground equipment — a baseball-mitt shaped climbing apparatus — at Louis Bloch Park, at the corner of East First Avenue and Joy Street in Camas.
The Parks Foundation granted the city $3,000 for the climber, which costs a little over $9,600 to buy and install. The city will provide $3,550 in funding and in-kind work by city staff, for site preparation, playground surfacing and installation of the manufactured climber and concrete border.
City leaders will look to community partners to help fund the remaining $3,100, and expect to install the playground climber by the end of this year.
The new climbing equipment, made from poly-crete, a type of cement, and painted with a graffiti-proof sealant, will be shaped like a baseball mitt and weighs in at six feet long, four feet wide and about three feet high.
In the city’s funding application, Camas Public Works Director Steve Wall said children and families, as well as the Camas-Washougal Babe Ruth baseball league, frequently utilize the Louis Bloch Park .
“The playground provides an opportunity for children to play while family members or friends play organized sports,” Wall stated in the application.
The existing playground has one swing set, a platform slide structure and restrooms. Up to seven children will be able to climb on or crawl through the tunnel of the mitt at one time.
Washougal parks included in Parks Foundation funding
The Parks Foundation also granted the city of Washougal’s request for $3,740 to add a basketball half-court at Oak Tree Park and a new backboard and hoop at the existing Hathaway Park half-court.
Washougal will provide in-house labor — three employees working a total of approximately 72 hours — worth $4,070. That amount could be reduced if Eagle Scouts, looking to raise donations for their projects and earn merit badges, help fund the project.
Washougal city leaders expect the addition and improvements at Oak Tree and Hathaway parks to happen this summer.
Michelle Wagner, the Washougal City Council liaison to the Washougal Parks Board, said the basketball half-court will be a great amenity for youth and adults in and around the Oak Tree Park area.
The park, located at 350 W. “Y” St., currently has toddler swings and a playground for children ages 2 to 5 years old.
“There is a fairly large population of youth in the Lookout Ridge area, to include a massive apartment complex and a dense area of town homes right below that park that will benefit greatly from this new addition,” Wagner said. “I’ve observed many kids playing in the streets and around the storm catch basin near the apartment complex, so I’m very excited to think that this new court will give them a better and safer place to play.”
In the grant application, Washougal Parks, Cemetery and Facilities Manager Suzanne Grover said a basketball half-court will provide a healthy activity and a constant athletic challenge for growing youth.
She said community members have tried to help care for the half-court at Hathaway Park, 799 25th St.,donating new hoops for the court, but that the current design of the hoop is not designed for heavy-weight basketballs and often breaks away from the wooden backboard.
“Currently, just the post and wooden backboard stand hoopless, but not hopeless,” Grover stated in the grant application.
The city plans to replace the wooden backboard with a sturdy, welded-steel backboard and hoop, and freshen up the court’s painted lines to brighten the playing court.
For more information about the Parks Foundation of Clark County, call Jennifer Hawks-Conright, events and communications specialist, at 360-487-8373, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.parksfoundation.us.
For more information about the Parks Foundation’s funding process and about former Camas resident Dianna Kretzschmar, who was named as the executive director of the Parks Foundation in March, visit the Post-Record online at www.camaspostrecord.com.
Funding the Foundation
After the Parks Foundation grant review committee makes recommendations to the foundation board, the board finalizes the decisions.
When recreation projects are completed, cities submit receipts for reimbursement from the Parks Foundation.
Grants from the foundation consist of donations from individuals and corporate sponsors to pay for playgrounds, bike paths, trails, Camp Hope, Sensory Camp, Teen Late night and other projects and programs.
Parks Foundation Executive Director Dianna Kretzschmar said while tax dollars support parks, trails, recreational programs and open spaces, the need is greater than taxes can cover.
“The Parks Foundation helps bridge the gap from support from the community,” she said. “We are an independent 501(c) 3 non-profit, whose mission is to help meet the needs that public funds cannot fully cover.”
Former local resident is new director of Parks Foundation
Kretzschmar was named as the executive director of the Parks Foundation in March.
She succeeded Temple Lentz, who is the business director for the Heather DeFord Group with Cascade Sotheby’s.
Kretzschmar previously worked as the director of admissions and marketing at Prestige Care and Rehabilitation in Camas. Other previous titles have included director of business development at Home Instead, health services liaison at Fort Vancouver Convalescent Center and Waterford at Fairway Village, as well as program coordinator for the Clark County Elder Justice Center at the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s office.
Kretzschmar, a former Camas and Washougal resident, wants to see Parks Foundation’s Community Grant Program continue to grow and meet the communities’ needs.
She said the foundation’s grant program started in 2009 with a balance of only $8,900.
Since that time, the foundation has provided more than $350,000 in grants to cities across Clark County.
“Thriving parks, trails and outdoor areas — as well as access to recreation — is foundational to the health and growth of any community,” Kretzschmar said. “In Clark County, our parks departments have been significantly reduced and restructured, making the role of the foundation even more critical.”
She hopes to follow in the footsteps of Florence “Flossie” Wager, a community advocate who helped establish more than 60 new parks across Clark County.
“She was a pit bull as she lobbied to win support for the Firstenberg Community Center in 2005, a passionate voice for walking and biking trails and worked diligently on the Steps to a Healthier Clark County campaign, which promoted wellness in ways like discouraging smoking at parks and playgrounds,” Kretzschmar said. “I hope to create an army of Flossies to walk alongside of me, in the footsteps of so many others to blaze new trails as we partner together to support our beloved parks, trails and recreational programs.”