Committee eyes sites for community center

Georgia-Pacific, Goodwill, Vancouver Clinic parcels in the mix

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Jim Kalvelage and Mark Stoller (foreground), with Opsis Architecture, Washougal City Administrator David Scott and Camas City Administrator Pete Capell (background) talk after a Camas-Washougal Community Center Study Advisory Committee meeting, Sept. 5, in the Port of Camas-Washougal office.

Georgia-Pacific (G-P) property on a hill near downtown Camas, vacant land owned by Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette and the Vancouver Clinic in Washougal are among potential community center sites deemed worthy of exploration by the newly formed Camas-Washougal Community Center Advisory Committee.

Mark Stoller, principal of Portland’s Opsis Architecture, plans to tour the G-P buildings this week, assess the infrastructure and report his findings during the committee’s next meeting in October.

Kristi Ward, G-P public affairs manager, said G-P is using the Camas Business Center, at Northwest Seventh Avenue and Northwest Drake Street, as office space, and the Drake Warehouse, at Northwest 10th and Benton streets, is currently being used for the storage of mill materials.

The land uphill from the G-P buildings is where a community center could potentially be built, according to Port of Camas-Washougal Commissioner John Spencer.

Another site that is being explored — involving land owned by Goodwill and Vancouver Clinic — is located near the Camas-Washougal border and The Crossing development, 291 “C” St., Washougal. It is immediately south of the BNSF tracks, west of Columbia Credit Union and north of Burger King and Jimbo’s Chevron.

Some members of the committee do not want to rule out the possibility of locating a community center on land owned by the Port of Camas-Washougal, near the waterfront.

Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Dennis conducted an economic analysis on that scenario and told port leaders in June that siting a community center on a 4-acre parcel near the waterfront could cost the port nearly $5 million in decreased land value and more than $10 million in lost development opportunities.

Stoller and Jim Kalvelage, a partner at Opsis, facilitated the community center committee’s Sept. 5 meeting.

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.

Washougal City Administrator David Scott said grants could be available to help pay for a community center.

It is likely that Camas and Washougal would need voter-approved funding for a multi-use facility with an indoor swimming pool. One possible approach would involve voters having to approve the creation of a Metropolitan Parks District (MPD), a separate taxing district that can levy up to 75 cents per $1,000 valuation.

Spencer told fellow committee members he remembers when former Camas Mayor Nan Henriksen talked about the need for a joint community center when he was at Camas High in the 1980s.

“There are expectations on us to get something done,” Spencer said. “Go big, or go home.”