Crown Park’s future comes into view

Camas leaders could delay water feature construction

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A rendering of a potential first step in Crown Park's renovation. This visual includes the water feature (1), ADA pathways (2), an improved playground (3), a sports court (4), a restroom (5) and the existing pavilion (6). (Contributed illustration courtesy of Greenworks, PC)

Camas city officials gave the public a glimpse of Crown Park’s possible future this week.

Camas Parks and Recreation Manager Jerry Acheson presented the department’s master plan for the project at the city council’s workshop on Monday, Nov. 5.

The plan details cost estimates, as well as the layout of the renovated park, located at Northeast 15th Avenue and Everett Street. Plans include a water feature, amphitheater, multi-purpose sports courts and ADA pathways.

Gill Williams, of Greenworks, PC, the firm consulting with the city on developing the park’s master plan, assisted Acheson with the presentation, and detailed other features of the final plan, including a playground expansion and enhanced landscaping.

The total cost of the project is estimated at nearly $5.6 million.

Camas-Washougal residents have been vocal about the Crown Park improvements over the past year, after learning that city leaders planned to shut down the park’s outdoor swimming pool — the only public, outdoor swimming pool in Clark County — and replace it with a possible spray park for younger children.

The water feature inspired the most debate at the Nov. 5 workshop. Williams noted that, during planning, city leaders had investigated renovating the existing pool or replacing it. Concerned by the aging pool’s many needed and costly repairs, city officials determined a replacement water feature — like a spray park — was a more feasible option.

“A lot of communities are going with these because they have, one, more use — they’re not just a summer use. You can get the edge seasons from them as well,” Williams said of the water feature. “And I think maintenance is lower on these. You don’t have a body of water where you’re constantly having to filter and recirculate. These are very popular right now.”

With the city’s decision to close the original Crown Park pool and demolish it in the coming months, locals have been quick to demand a replacement. A possible Camas-Washougal community center — still several years from being a reality — may include a recreational pool as well as a competition pool.

City leaders on Monday said they would like to look at implementing the Crown Park revamp in stages.

Implementing the first phase of park changes with the water feature would cost about $2.6 million. Without the water feature, that cost decreases to about $2 million.

“That’s quite a bit of money that could lend itself to other things,” said Mayor Pro Tem Don Chaney at the Nov. 5 workshop. “I would like to have that still as an option in the phasing, but let’s see where we go and where we are, and just let it be a decision point at some time when we know better what we need.”

Councilwoman Melissa Smith agreed.

“Maybe we leave that (the water feature) as the last thing to look at until we decide what’s going on with either a pool for Camas or a community center, things like that. I’d like to focus on restrooms and the ADA pathways and some of the upgrades on the playground,” Smith said.

Councilwoman Deanna Rusch also didn’t have any qualms delaying the water feature construction.

“I don’t think I’ve had a singular person in all of my dealings with the public say, ‘I want a splash pad.’ So that’s where I’m coming from at this point,” Rusch said.

As mentioned by Williams, water features like splash pads are popular with communities. They provide a lower maintenance level than pools because there isn’t standing water. However, maintenance costs for any aquatic feature are not negligible. Councilwoman Shannon Turk noted this, before voicing the most pro-water feature support of the group.

“I do like having a no-cost-to-the-public option for low-income families that would get into the water, as opposed to having them go swim in the lake or the river or something,” she said. “My preference would be to get the splash pad in there, or at least incorporate it into financing options.”

City leaders will explore financing options for renovating the park before making any final decisions. The City Council asked Acheson to look into possible financing for all of the implementation options before they discuss the water feature and other specific components of the Crown Park master plan.

“It’s not just the concept,” said Chaney, with a sigh. “It’s about what we can afford to pay, and how we’re going to pay for it.”