Camas voters sink aquatics center

90 percent of voters saying ‘no’ to $78 million community-aquatics center

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An illustration shows what the "aquatics" portion of the proposed Camas Community and Aquatics Center may have looked if voters had approved a $78 million bond proposal in the Nov. 5 election. (Contributed illustration courtesy of city of Camas)

Camas’ Proposition 2, also known as the “$78 million pool bond,” has failed.

With about 73 percent of ballots counted Tuesday evening, the ballot proposition — which asked Camas voters to approve up to $78 million to build a community-aquatics center at a yet-to-be-determined location in Camas, and renovate sports fields throughout the city — had only garnered 10 percent voter approval.

Camas Mayor Shannon Turk said she was still happy city leaders had put the issue to voters despite the failing proposition.

“I would say that the people have spoken loud and clear,” Turk said Tuesday night. “We put the issue to the people for them to decide. We will listen to that and decide how to move on.”

The proposition needed 60 percent approval to pass.

Online and in public meetings, bond opponents questioned everything from the price tag, which would have cost taxpayers an additional $1.04 per $1,000 in assessed property value in 2021, to the proposed location of the center on a busy stretch of Northeast Lake Road near Lacamas and Fallen Leaf lakes, to the ongoing maintenance and operations costs the center would have required.

City council members were unanimous in their decision to put the issue to voters, and many longtime Camas leaders said the idea of building a public community-aquatics center — as well as improving sports fields in the city — was something that had long ranked as a priority for Camas citizens.

When they voted in July to bring the issue to voters, city councilors had reviewed 12 options presented by city staff.

The selected option was not the most expensive — the highest ticket option also included a $12 million sports complex — but it did include the most amenities for the community-aquatic center such as a 78,000-square-foot building with a recreation pool, a competition lap pool, gymnasium, community rooms, cardio and weight rooms, and an indoor walk-jog track overlooking the gym courts and the preferred (but not definite) site’s forested areas.

The bond proposal also included $6 million worth of upgrades to local sports fields: $2.7 million worth of renovations, including turf and lighting, at Forest Home Park; $2.3 million in improvements at Prune Hill Sports Park; and $1 million in renovations to sports fields at Dorothy Fox Park.

Camas Mayor Shannon Turk told the Post-Record in October the bond proposal was “a compilation of the needs and requests” city leaders have heard from community members for the past two decades.

“I understand why this might feel like several bond measures in one request, but this is the compilation of many years worth of requests,” Turk said.