Port recognized for public outreach efforts

The Washington Public Ports Association has named the Port of Camas-Washougal its 2020 Community Engagement Award recipient.

The WPPA said it chose the Port as this year’s community engagement award-winner due to the Port’s “deeply thoughtful approach” to working with and engaging community members during the Port’s Parker’s Landing Waterfront Development project.

“We were surprised and humbled to receive the award,” said Sadie Hayes, the Port’s community relations specialist. “We strive to keep the community informed and involved in Port projects, and this recognition from our peers is a true validation of those efforts.”

Each year, the WPPA recognizes accomplishments by member ports in the categories of environmental stewardship, community engagement, job creation and creative partnerships.

The WPPA chose the Port for the community engagement award over six other finalists.

“The WPPA was impressed with the comprehensive nature of the Port’s community engagement campaign,” said WPPA communications manager Jessica Wilson. “Port districts are one of those special purpose districts in Washington that many residents aren’t particularly engaged with — they think of themselves as residing in a city or county, but not necessarily within a port district. What made the Port of Camas-Washougal so special in this regard is they overcame that pretty significant barrier to engagement and ultimately ended up with a product that residents can tangibly enjoy.”

In 2019, Roy Kim, owner of Portland-based RKm Development, the waterfront project’s developer, appeared at several public events, including the Port’s Natural Play Area grand opening and Fourth of July Concert and Celebration, to meet community members and answer questions about the project.

The WPPA was impressed by the Port’s use of a variety of tactics, including social media, children’s art contests and event booths, to reach out to community members, WIlson said.

The Port has used a variety of tools, including its website and social media, surveys, commission meetings and informal in-person discussions, to inform community members about the project, according to Hayes.

“We built a greater social media audience with the grand opening of the Natural Play Area (in 2019), and we used that increased audience to engage the community in the development of this project,” Hayes said. “We asked the community to be involved in each step of the design and use of the space.”

“We have worked very hard to engage the community in this waterfront development project. We want to be transparent with the community and truly get them involved with this project,” she continued. “This is a space that is as much for the community as it is for economic growth in Camas-Washougal. This engagement effort has led to increased participation with the Port through online means and meeting attendance.”

The project will develop the Port’s waterfront property into a “lively, walkable place with community gathering and character spaces, commercial, retail, mixed-use and residential uses,” according to the Port’s website.

The Port plans to break ground on the project in 2022.

“I believe the Port considers and addresses all public input,” Port commissioner Lary Keister told the Post-Record in 2020. “The waterfront project has been a well-involved public process, and it will continue to be so as we move forward.”