Reminder: no lifeguards, spray ground at Klineline Pond

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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The appearance of the sun merits a reminder that for the second year, the county will not be providing lifeguards or operating the “spray ground” water feature at Klineline Pond in Salmon Creek Regional Park.

The county issued a news release Friday reminding swimmers, parents and anyone else using the park this summer to pay attention to warning signs.

The spray ground requires regular chlorine testing and supervision, but county commissioners eliminated money for lifeguards in December 2009 in a series of spending cuts to balance the budget.

The cuts also eliminated all maintenance and parking lot access at 10 regional parks, boat launches and trailheads.

“We were able to keep regional parks open this past winter and had hoped to reinstate lifeguards for the summer swimming season,” Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Director Pete Mayer said. “But the ongoing economic slump and reduced revenues made that difficult, given other regional park maintenance and operations needs, countywide.”

In April, Clark County Public Works Director Pete Capell said that due to a potential shortage of money to pay for parks maintenance and operation, the Greater Clark Parks District will hold off on building nine parks.

The funding shortage was caused by a poor housing market and falling assessed values.

The parks district, established in 2005 by voters who live in Hazel Dell, Salmon Creek and other urban areas outside of Vancouver city limits, has built 23 neighborhood and community parks.

Voters authorized a maximum property rate tax of 27 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to pay for maintenance and some construction.

The nine projects to be shelved are Curtain Creek and Pleasant Valley community parks and Dogwood, East Minnehaha, Kozy Kamp, Otto Brown, Salmon Creek Community Club, Sorenson and Tower Crest neighborhood parks.

Capell said in April approximately $5.6 million in property taxes will be reserved for park upkeep.

“Despite the current financial setbacks, parks staff will provide the best service possible to ensure that Clark County citizens continue to have an enjoyable experience when visiting their parks,” said Bill Bjerke, Public Works parks maintenance superintendent, in Friday’s news release.

For more information about swimming and water safety in parks, go to http://www.cityofvancouver.us/parks-recreation/parks_trails/swimming.asp.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com.