After facing multiple setbacks, city of Washougal officials are cautiously optimistic that the long-awaited construction of a pump track and jump lines at Hamllik Park’s bicycle skills course will begin in the spring of 2020.
“We’re on track to move forward,” said Suzanne Grover, Washougal’s parks and cemetery director. “We’re excited about it. This project has been on hold for quite a while. The community wants this to be done, and I do too.”
During the city’s Sept. 23 workshop, however, Washougal City Manager David Scott questioned if a fundraising effort coordinated by Ed Fischer, former owner of Camas Bike and Sport, will be able to gather enough money to combine with city funds for the project.
“We don’t know if they’re going to be able to pull it off,” Scott said of supporters raising funds for the new bike course improvements. “We’ve done everything we need to do. They’ve got to raise donations and do all of the things they need to do, and I don’t know if they’re there yet. … They would be contracted to deliver the whole project, and that’s the rub, because they have not fundraised enough money to be able to deliver that whole project.”
State law limits Washougal to spending $2 per resident annually for public improvements. With Washougal’s population at 16,020, the city can contribute $32,040 to the bike park additions. The city is allocating between $32,000 and $100,000 for the project in its parks budget for 2020.
Project organizers hope donations, fundraising and grants — the city has applied for a $20,000 grant from the Washington State Parks Foundation — will provide the funding.
Scott said the city could complete the project for about $100,000, but doing so would lose “that dynamic (of volunteer involvement).”
At the Sept. 23 workshop, Washougal City Councilwoman Michelle Wagner expressed her belief that community participation is vital for the project’s success.
“It’s important to understand the historical context. It came to us as a real grassroots effort, and the city would be contributing minimally and assisting, but not completely doing the entire project,” Wagner said. “There’s a lot of folks with good participation value asking for skateparks, dog parks and a lot of other things that could easily be completed for that $100,000.”
Councilman Paul Greenlee agreed, and said he believed the project would “lose some of its public value” without volunteer involvement.
“Part of what was attractive about the initial project was that it was going to be the bicycle pump track for the Portland metro area, so it would draw people from all over,” Greenlee said. “A whole lot of the value comes from the volunteer participation, which is what generates the awareness and the interest in the pump track because it makes Washougal a destination.”
Grover is working to draft a contract with the Seattle-based nonprofit Evergreen Mountain Biking Alliance (EMBA), which will construct the pump track, a continuous loop of dirt berms and smooth mounds that bicyclists ride without pedaling.
Fischer is set to begin fundraising efforts, according to Grover.
“We’re going to rely heavily on donations for this,” Grover said. “The price tag is higher than we had budgeted for it. We’re going to rely on the community to get it completed. As soon as we get the contract (with EMBA) ready for signatures, (Fischer) is going to start an all-out quest for funding. People can expect him to ask them for help to build this track.”
Earlier this year, Fischer told the Post-Record that the completed bike course “will be a boost for the community and Washougal and people who want to play on bikes.”
“(These courses are) going to be commonplace at some point. Why not be on the leading edge of the movement?” Fischer said. “Phase one (of the Washougal bike park) is not a complete park. It’s like putting in a basketball court and then not adding the hoops. We need to get the rest of it in. Then it will be a full feature and a full destination so that others outside of the community will want to use it.”
The bike skills course, which makes its way around the perimeter of the park and includes natural rock and cedar log features, ladder bridges and ramps, opened in October 2016.
In December 2017, city of Washougal officials terminated a contract with EMBA for the design and building of the pump track after determining that prevailing wage and state and local permitting requirements were not fully considered.