The city of Washougal is preparing to launch a community aesthetics program in an effort to become more forward-looking in its approach to code compliance and attract people to the area.
The city has developed the program through some “stops and starts” for the past several years, according to Mitch Kneipp, the city’s community development director.
“It came about from the council’s direction shortly before the pandemic,” he said. “We started working on a program at that time, researching other cities and municipalities that have programs related to proactive code compliance, and we thought that was the direction that we wanted to go in to address this issue. And then the pandemic hit, so it was (delayed) for a little bit, and our funding source was in jeopardy for a while, and we weren’t sure if we were going to get it, but we ended up getting it, and now we’re moving forward.”
The city promoted Sherry Montgomery, its former code compliance officer, into the newly created role of community aesthetics coordinator in December 2022.
“After she finishes training our new code compliance officer, she’ll work with our city departments, property owners, neighborhood groups, homeowner associations, and businesses and community service organizations to address (issues) proactively,” Kneipp said. “I think Sherry will be looking more big-picture to improve larger areas, but as she goes out and meets with these groups, (they may suggest) other things that we can do and should be doing.”
Kneipp said he will present the program to the Washougal City Council in June.
“I want (residents) contributing to their community,” Washougal Mayor David Stuebe told the Post-Record in March. “I want them to enjoy what we have, but I also want them to respect it and take pride in it and remember that they’re here today, but their neighbor’s going to be here tomorrow, so clean up, keep it nice, and do things to contribute and not destroy this community. We want people to have ownership and be proud to say that they live in Washougal.”
The city and the community as a whole will benefit from the program in several ways, Kneipp said.
The assistance of community members and organizations will be vital to the program’s success, according to Kneipp.
“I think that that is an essential function of Sherry’s position — how do we (find) citizens that are willing to help?” he said.