Washougal bike park’s Phase II put on hold

Spring opening delayed due to contract concerns

By Adam Littman, Columbian Staff Writer

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Phase II of Hamllik Park’s new bike skills course in Washougal was set to kick off before the end of 2017 in time to open this spring, but the project has been put on hold.

The city accepted a bid for the project from the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance and signed a contract with the Seattle-based nonprofit in early November. On Dec. 20, the city canceled the contract due to concerns with the agreement.

Trevor Evers, Washougal’s director of Public Works, said the city had some concerns about the prevailing wage listed in the agreement, and wasn’t sure about Evergreen’s use of in-kind labor and donated materials for the project.

“The city’s supportive of the project, but it was the right thing to terminate the (contract) and huddle back up,” Evers said.

He added that part of the concern is what happens if enough donations aren’t raised for the project, and how the city handles working on a project using donated funds and labor.

“It’s more of a procedural irregularity for us,” he said. “Typically, when we’re dealing with capital improvements, there’s no donations and fundraising and labor on projects.”

Yvonne Kraus, executive director of Evergreen, said that one benefit of working with the nonprofit is that they can use volunteers and donations for the project.

She said Evergreen’s bid for the project came in at $36,374.65 including tax for the project, which would’ve seen Evergreen design and install a pump track, a course of mounds and banked turns that cyclists can ride without pedaling. The only other bid to come in for the project came in $100,000 more than that, Evers said.

Kraus said Evergreen knew the city had a little more than $30,000 for the project, so they figured out how to put in a bid for that amount. That meant Evergreen didn’t include travel and lodging costs in the bid, and instead planned on using a combination of chapter funds and fundraising to cover those costs, along with making up the difference on materials for the track.

“We bid to what we knew was available and what we felt confident we could use to deliver them a good project,” Kraus said. “We’re all quite sad. We want the community to have a good pump track.”

Evers said the city is fully committed to finishing the park and could send out a request for bids again. Kraus said she’d be surprised if any bids could come in below $60,000 to $70,000 for the work in Phase II.

“We can offset our costs,” she said. “We have experience building these.”

The city also wants to obtain grant money for the project, but their request for about $160,000 from the state for 2018 was turned down. Evers said the city could keep looking for grant opportunities for the project, in addition to putting it back out to bid.

The first part of the course opened in October 2016.

Kraus said one of the reasons she and others at Evergreen were interested in the Washougal park is because of the local enthusiasm for the project. Ed Fischer, owner of Camas Bike and Sport, has been a big supporter of the project, helping raise awareness of the bike park in the local biking community. He’s also organized fundraisers to bring in money for the project, and said a few local companies have donated supplies used for the course and fence already at the park.

He said the park could be a great addition for cyclists in the area, and hopes the park is completed because of what it could mean for local youths.

“It’s about getting kids on bikes,” he said. “I have a kid who’s 15. When I was 15, I didn’t have a phone or a computer to keep my entertained. I had to go out and ride a bike. Trying to get people to where they are engaged with it, excited about it to go do it, it has to be more than riding your bike down the street. What can we do to get kids inspired to go ride their bikes? We need a cool asset like that. It’s keeping them off their screens and keeping them active.”