Thursday, October 6, 2022
Oct. 6, 2022

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Washougal launches websites to gather residents’ ideas for COVID aid, city’s future

Public asked to rank projects, define ‘future vision’ of city

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Officials are seeking input from community members on two issues critical to the future of Washougal: the city’s use of its federal COVID-recovery funds and the creation of a long-term strategic plan that will “define the future vision of Washougal.”

The city has created a website that contains information about the five projects that it’s considering to fund with its $4.5 million American Rescue Plan Act allocation.

“A survey at the end that asks residents to rank each project in order of priority,” city of Washougal communications specialist Michelle Loftus said. “Results will inform which projects receive funding.”

The results will be posted to the city’s website and social media channels, and presented at a future city council meeting.

The city received about $2.25 million from the act, 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. The city expects another $2.25 million this summer.

The city used about $143,000 of its original allotment to purchase a keyless entry system for City Hall, expand the service counter and add a public conference room and mail slot at the city’s permit center and repair and upgrade the city’s public restrooms last summer.

In July 2021, the city council reached an informal consensus that the remaining funds would best be used for capital projects, which they determined would provide the “most transformative” and “long-lasting” impact for the entire community.

Earlier this year, city officials “assessed community needs, sought guidance from department leaders, and identified areas that would make a long-lasting impact on Washougal,” according to the city’s website.

The city council’s Public Works Committee selected five projects: 32nd Street underpass complete design and permitting; 32nd Street (Q Street to Addy Street) safety improvements and treatments; the Washougal Civic Recreation Complex; Schmid Family Park; and biosolids handling facility/anoxic selector/lagoon decommission.

“This is quite a unique opportunity for us as a city,” council member Ernie Suggs said during a workshop session earlier this year.

Long-term strategic plan

The city has also launched a “social pinpoint” site for its ongoing strategic planning process as part of its community visioning phase.

The site provides an opportunity for residents to submit feedback through a survey, post comments on an “ideas wall” and sign up for upcoming community forums.

The city hired BerryDunn, a Portland, Maine-based national consulting firm that provides services for local and state government agencies, to assist with the strategic planning process.

“The strategic plan is a living document that we will use to define the future vision for Washougal,” the website states.

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