Four years of free parking at four county parks is coming to an end.
As part of this year’s budget, county councilors reinstated parking fees at Frenchman’s Bar Regional Park, Lewisville Regional Park, Salmon Creek Regional Park/Klineline Pond and Vancouver Lake Regional Park, which were eliminated in 2013.
The fees start back up April 3, and as of Wednesday, residents can purchase parking passes for 2017. The annual fee is $30, and daily fees are $2 for motorcycles, $3 for cars, $6 for cars with trailers and $8 for buses or motor homes.
“It goes back into the general fund,” said Eric Christensen, parks facilities coordinator for Clark County Public Works. “The idea is to use the funds to help maintenance and operations costs at the parks.”
Tapped general fund
In 2012, the last year parking fees were collected, the county raised a little more than $300,000, Christensen said, adding that county officials anticipate the fees will generate around that amount again.
Christensen also said there has not been any discussion yet about expanding the parking fees to other locations.
To purchase a season parking pass, which will be good through the remainder of 2017, residents can go to:
• Building A, Clark County 78th Street Operations Center, 4700 N.E. 78th St., Vancouver from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
• First floor of the Clark County Permit Center, Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St., Vancouver, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Debit and credit card transactions carry a $2.95 fee.
• Battle Ground Community Center, 912 E. Main St., Battle Ground, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The idea to eliminate parking fees came from then-Clark County Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke. The controversial plan saw the revenue shortfall made up with money from the general fund, and while it made the parks more free and open for residents, some people expressed concerns about graffiti, vandalism and loitering.
Since the fees were re-established by the current councilors, Christensen said he’s heard from residents both for and against reinstating the fees.
“Some people felt like the parking fees could help minimize some of the theft and vandalism and other illegal activities they might come across in the park,” he said. “Others said the additional fee is a strain on their budgets, which we certainly understand.”
The pay booths at each park will be staffed part of the year, including five days a week during summer, and Christensen said the county won’t have to hire any additional staff for the program. Otherwise, there will be a self-pay station that accepts cash only.
When there is a staffer, he or she will take cash, credit or debit, but no checks.
“The cost to process a $3 check is not worth the check,” Christensen said.
The parking fees will be in effect year-round.