City of Washougal leaders have introduced a plan to bring several popular amenities, including a dog park, to downtown Washougal.
The Washougal Civic Recreation Complex will feature a dog park, outdoor recreation area and a splash pad, Michelle Wright, the city’s public works business administrator, told city leaders during an April 25 Washougal City Council workshop.
City leaders are hoping to convert a small, vacant field north of the Washougal Community Center into an off-leash dog park, separated into two areas to accommodate small and large dogs, with a shelter, water fountain and seating.
“There will be an entrance that will be split off and allow large dogs to go on one side and smaller dogs to go to the other side,” Wright said. “We are also having a nature play area and an obstacle course. It was suggested that having dogs be able to keep moving throughout the facility is really important.”
City officials also want to construct an outdoor seating area next to the Washougal Senior Center, an amenity that could include a covered outdoor kitchen, barbecue grills, seating, a bocce ball court and a water feature, according to Wright.
“We met with the seniors, Meals on Wheels, the park board, council members and community members, just to find out what they’d like to have for an outdoor recreation area,” Wright said.
Up next on the city’s list of wished-for amenities is the creation of a small park next to the current Washougal Community Library, which would feature a splash pad, local artwork, outdoor seating, a planting area and a playground.
“We heard that (people want) nature-themed areas, art installations and outdoor seating with shelters. The library wall is currently blank, but the Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance has talked about putting in a mural of the Gorge,” Wright said.
Washougal Mayor Rochelle Ramos said she believes the recreation complex “is exactly what’s needed.”
“It not only adds a few things that our citizens have requested, but it makes our downtown a little more walkable,” Ramos said. “It will draw people into the businesses, and potential future businesses will want to take up a spot because they see some life downtown again. With some banners, lighting, and maybe some sidewalk fixes, I think this can bring a lot of attention to our downtown and complement what’s happening on the waterfront.”
Scott said that the city isn’t sure yet how much the project will cost, but will make every effort to secure not only the RCO grant, but other funding options that could become available in the coming months.
He also said that the city could potentially decide to use a portion of its pandemic recovery funds on the complex. The city received about $2.25 million from the United States government’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Biden to speed up the United States’ recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in the summer of 2021, and expects to receive another $2.25 million this summer.
“The public works committee is working on (ways to spend our ARPA funds),” he told council members. “It’s not quite ready yet, but in the next several weeks there will be a proposal for the council to consider in terms of what we would bring forward to the community. But you can bet that this project will be on the list as one possibility.
“We will cobble together a portfolio of funding for (the complex, which) will be part of the conversation on the ARPA funding options, because the recommendation to council was that we need to try to use the ARPA funds for projects where we can be as leveraged as possible, whether it’s grants or appropriated funding or foundations or whatever it might be. This might turn into a very attractive project in that regard. It just depends how successful we are in those other avenues. I think it would take almost all of that APRA funding if we don’t get any other help.”
Earlier this year, Scott told the Post-Record that the city and FVRL have requested an appropriation from Washington state’s supplemental capital budget for the project.
“If we receive this funding, we will combine it with other city and FVRL funds that can be used on such a project,” he said. “If successful, we will move to detailed design and then construction, which will likely take us into early next year for completion. If we are not successful with the state funding, we will explore other funding options for the full project and/or look at phasing in pieces of the project.”
The Council also approved a resolution April 25 that allows the city to apply for a Washington State Recreation Conservation Office (RCO) grant that would help fund the recreation complex, which would be near the Washougal Community Center and the future site of the new Washougal library building in downtown Washougal.
The city plans to construct 110 parking spaces downtown to serve the new library and “meet Town Center parking demand for events and anticipated town center growth,” Washougal City Manager David Scott told the Post-Record in January. The parking spaces will not be part of the city’s RCO grant, Wright told city council members April 25.
Council members voiced support for the project, although councilman David Stuebe expressed concern the amenities might draw the attention of graffiti artists.
“It looks great,” Councilmember Michelle Wagner said. “I had questioned the extensiveness of the water park considering the weather around here, but I was looking at it again and seeing all of the stones, and it looks like it could have a dual use with kids climbing on it when it’s not summer, so I like that aspect of it if you’re able to bring that to the design. Kids like stones and can climb on them year-round whether the splash pad is going or not.”
To view conceptual designs and fill out a form letter of support the city can use in grant proposals, visit cityofwashougal.us/CivicRecComplexSupport.