Washougal puts parks up for adoption

New adopt-a-park program asks volunteers to pitch in

Last July, then-Washougal mayoral candidate Rochelle Ramos gathered a group of friends and co-workers to clean up Reflection Plaza in downtown Washougal.

With a little help from the city’s maintenance crew, Ramos and her friends “pulled a lot of weeds and a lot of old, dead plants,” Ramos told Washougal City Council members during the Council’s Feb. 14 workshop. “And the city got all of the lighting working again. It was a great effort, definitely well-received in the community.”

Ramos and the rest of the council now hope other Washougal residents will latch onto the idea that it takes a village to care for a city through Washougal’s new adopt-a-park program.

“This is a concept that we’ve been talking about for probably over a year with the park board,” Washougal Public Works Administrator Michelle Wright said during the Feb. 14 city council meeting. “It’s really an amazing program.”

Many cities and towns around the United States — including Vancouver — already have similar types of programs in place. Washougal’s program will provide a variety of ways for local groups, families, and businesses to help keep parks safe and clean through individual patrols, work parties or large community events, Wright said.

To adopt a park, individuals or organizations must fill out an application — which will soon be available on the city’s website — meet with a city volunteer coordinator to set up a work plan and commit to at least two service projects per year.

“What we look for is an organization that can bring in volunteer hours and provide maintenance — (spreading) bark dust, pulling weeds, cleaning graffiti and other tasks,” Wright said. “Usually, we like to have that completed either monthly or weekly, depending on if it’s summer or winter.”

Wright said several local residents have already expressed interest in adopting a park.

“The response that we’ve had has been overwhelming,” Wright said. “We already have three groups that would like to help with Hamllik, Hartwood and Reflection Plaza — all amazing opportunities. We also have a Girl Scout group that wants to adopt a park, too. This is really exciting.”

Several council members praised the program during the Feb. 14 workshop.

“It gives people a venue for volunteering, which is really kind of tough to find sometimes,” council member Molly Coston said. “It also provides a great service to the community. It’s a great community building opportunity. I’m looking forward to seeing this program in action.”

The idea also pleased the city’s new mayor.

“I’m glad to hear that more people are stepping up to (care for) other parks,” Ramos said. “It would be wonderful if we could get them all adopted this summer.”