City, port leaders discuss regional, multi-use community center

Pool funding likely to require voter approval

With the closure of the Camas municipal pool this year, many local residents are wondering when and where another aquatic facility will open. It is going to take several years and millions of dollars to construct a new pool with amenities at another location.

The Camas pool will be demolished, and an interactive water feature will be built at that site.

Camas City Administrator Pete Capell said the city hopes to demolish the pool this summer, and there is no timeline for the splash pad to be built.

“We need to design it and determine how to pay for it,” he said.

Based on preliminary information provided by Ballard King & Associates, a consultant from Highland Ranch, Colorado, a 63,875-square-foot multi-use community facility for Camas and Washougal, with a 25-yard-by-six lane pool and a 3,500-square-foot leisure pool, could cost $34 million to $39 million. That option includes a gym, walk/jog track, community room, kitchen, classroom, game room, weight/cardio area, cafe and drop-in child watch.

It is one of four options reviewed by a Washougal Community Center study committee. The smallest option, a 22,250-square-foot center without a pool, would cost an estimated $10 million to $12 million and primarily serve residents of Washougal.

The Washougal study committee has also looked at two other multi-use facility options, for Washougal and Camas residents. Both are 39,625 square feet — one without a pool and an estimated cost of $18 million to $21 million; and one with a 3,500 square foot leisure pool and an estimated cost of $21 million to $24 million.

Washougal City Administrator David Scott said the preliminary programming options have not been vetted jointly with Camas representatives, and it is likely that Camas and Washougal would need voter-approved funding for a multi-use facility with an indoor swimming pool.

That could involve voters having to approve the creation of a metropolitan parks district (MPD) separate taxing district, which can levy approximately 75 cents per $1,000 valuation.

Local officials agree it would be several years before a multi-use facility could be built, to serve Camas and Washougal residents.

If a bond to build a multi-purpose facility were to be put before voters in 2019, Port of C-W Commissioner John Spencer said it could take some time for a capital fundraising campaign, as well as 18 months for design and permitting and a year for construction.

Terry Babin, a Washougal resident for 22 years and former water safety instructor and aquatics director, supports having an indoor pool as part of a multi-use facility.

He emphasized the importance of swimming lessons.

“No life should be lost because of the absence of opportunity for developing swimming skills, learning to respect the dangers of water conditions and understanding one’s own limitations,” Babin said.

He added that a multi-use facility could complement community education and school programs and activities, serve all ages, incomes and interests and add quality of life amenities which could attract business investment.

Paul Dennis, president and chief executive officer of the Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association, recently started reviewing the Washougal community center study and Camas pool study.

Scott, Capell and Port of C-W Executive Director David Ripp have asked Dennis to summarize his thoughts regarding whether a joint community center would work at the Port’s waterfront property or on city of Camas-owned land adjacent to Goot Park, 2565 S.E. Sixth Ave.

Dennis will also provide an estimate of the opportunity benefits or costs of having a community center as part of the Port’s waterfront development.

Scott said the next step after Dennis finishes the review, summary and estimate will depend on the results of his study and the extent of Port partnership. The cities and Port could begin to mutually pursue a facility.

Janice Ferguson, a member of the Washougal Community Center Study Committee, thinks Camas and Washougal would benefit from a multi-use facility.

Ferguson, a 20-year member of the Washougal Parks Board, said senior citizens and youth in Washougal need a space that is open for recreation.

“Currently Washougal has a small community center that is used as a senior center and for programs sponsored by the library,” she said. “Scheduling different community events can be a challenge.”

Next Steps for a Camas-Washougal Community Center

*CWEDA President Paul Dennis is determining whether a joint multi-use facility would work at the Port of C-W waterfront property or Camas-owned land adjacent to Goot Park.

*Camas, Washougal and the Port of C-W could soon begin to mutually pursue a facility, depending on the results of Dennis’ study.

*If a bond to build a multi-purpose facility were to be put before voters in 2019, it could take 18 months for design and permitting, followed by a year to build.