Washougal eyes Hamllik Park renovations

City will apply for community block grant to help modernize one of Washougal’s oldest parks

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Washougal city leaders said in 2020 that the 23-year-old playground at Hamllik Park is so old, they have trouble finding replacement parts. (Post-Record file photo)

City of Washougal officials say Hamllik Park is in dire need of repair.

“As part of our work on the parks master plan, we looked through the entire inventory of all of the parks and gave them a grade based on their condition,” said Michelle Wright, the city’s assistant public works director. “It was determined that Hamllik needed a lot of improvements.”

To that end, the city is applying for a Clark County community development block grant (CDBG) that, if awarded, will allow it to replace outdated, deteriorating or incomplete structures and install new features.

“The playground is 23 years old, the oldest in our system,” Wright said. “We’ve had trouble finding parts for it because the replacements aren’t being made anymore. Eventually we would have to close that playground until we could afford a new one because we won’t be able to find replacement parts. The dugouts (need improvement). The shelter areas are deteriorating. The paint is chipping on all on the picnic tables and starting to peel. The buildings have been vandalized and have been repainted several times over. The park just needs a freshening up.”

Wright said the city is also considering adding a half-court basketball playing surface, improving the baseball field, installing an irrigation system, fixing the shelter roof, repairing and painting the restrooms, providing Americans With Disabilities Access and repairing the asphalt trail.

Jayne Lacey, president of the city’s Park Board of Commissioners, said that Hamllik Park upgrades would “be a good thing for the community.”

“It’s one of our older parks, so it would be lovely to get it to a level where it’s more modernized,” she said. “The park has great potential. It serves as a large part of the community on the east side of town, and has a lot of activities. The park board has been talking about (making improvements) there for quite some time. This has been a long time coming.”

The city recently sent out a survey asking community members about potential park improvements, and will prioritize the top three results in its redevelopment plans, Wright said.

“The board has a list of ideas that they like to see at the park, but it really is going to be up to the community,” she said. “We sent out surveys and hope to hear back from as many people as we can. We also want to try to pop into the park and hand out surveys to people to see what kind of feedback we can get. We’ve also had a lot of comments on Facebook as well.”

The city has received about 80 responses from the 314 surveys it sent out, Lacey said.

“(Respondents) indicated that while they enjoy Washougal’s parks and trails, they see a need for renovation and additional park amenities,” Lacey said. “During the pandemic, especially, the parks are important for our well-being and mental health. They can (distract) people from their struggles. Getting outside, grounding yourself in nature — people need that to survive right now”

The Department of Housing and Urban Development issues CDBG funds to cities, counties, nonprofit organizations and private companies with the objective of improving communities. The funds are then distributed to municipalities, organizations and groups through a competitive application process.

The county has received $1 million a year from the HUD since 1985.

“We always hope for the best,” Wright said. “It does help that it’s a Clark County grant and not open to the entire state. Any letters of support from citizens would be amazing. The more that we can show that the neighborhood really wants the park (upgrades) would really help.”

Wright said that if the city receives the grant, construction should be in early 2021 and could be completed by summer 2021. City leaders have set aside $30,000 for the project in their 2021 capital works budget, but know that a new playground will cost approximately $90,000, and a basketball court would cost between $15,000 and $20,000, Wright said.

“We’ll have to stay agile to figure out what the neighbors would like to see in the park and work our match around that,” she said.