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Saturday, March 2, 2024
March 2, 2024

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Long-awaited remodeling of Crown Park in Camas on cusp of realization

Project to include water feature, new playground, more

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Crown Park has been Camas&rsquo; living room for decades, but many of its facilities are getting old. The city&rsquo;s parks commission hopes the city council will approve plans to spend $6.3 million to update the entire park.
Crown Park has been Camas’ living room for decades, but many of its facilities are getting old. The city’s parks commission hopes the city council will approve plans to spend $6.3 million to update the entire park. (Kelly Moyer/Post-Record files) Photo Gallery

CAMAS — The long-awaited remodeling of Crown Park, Camas’ “outdoor living room,” is on the cusp of realization.

Camas Parks and Recreation Director Trang Lam was able to secure a $500,000 grant from the state’s Recreation and Conservation Office to help offset the $6.3 million cost.

Lam focused the grant on major elements of the master plan: the restrooms, an interactive water feature, a new picnic shelter (the current picnic shelter will also remain), an inclusive playground, an open lawn area, a stormwater planter and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant parking along Northeast 17th Avenue.

To receive the $500,000 grant, the city must complete at least those elements of the Crown Park master plan, but members of the Parks and Recreation Commission are urging the Camas City Council to move forward with the entire project.

“The council has overwhelmingly approved (remodeling) the entire park. They decided they wanted to continue moving forward,” Ellen Burton, the former Camas mayor who now heads the city’s parks commission, recently told the Post-Record.

Following the city council’s unexpected veto this fall of a sports field project already included in the city’s 2023-24 budget, Burton and other parks commission members feared that council members might also consider not moving forward with the final stretch of the Crown Park master plan, or vote to hold off on certain elements that would jeopardize receiving the state grant.

“If you do just half a project, it tends to stay that way,” Burton said. “Look at the trails in Camas. They’re not connected because we’re doing them piecemeal. If we choose that route again, we will not be able to complete the park.”

Burton said the 2023-24 budget includes moving forward with the bidding and construction phases of the Crown Park remodel and is critical to fulfilling what community members have said they want to see from their city leaders.

“The community has told us their priorities,” Burton noted. “They have said maintain what we have, fill in the gaps and improve trail connections, and develop and improve existing parks. If you look at Crown Park, it’s smack dab in the target of what the community has told us they want.”

Burton stressed that the $6.3 million Crown Park renovations are fully funded by the grant, park impact fees, real estate excise taxes and a bond approved by city council members earlier this year. The city’s general fund is expected to shrink next year because fewer home sales reduced tax revenue.

“Funding is secured and is not from the general fund,” Burton said. “We got a premium on the bond thanks to the city’s high (financial) rating, so we had better rates and got more money than we requested. We also have parks impact fees that are paid by new development and can only be used for parks and new construction. … There is no general fund money, so there is no competition here with police or fire (funding).”

Commission member Jason Irving agreed that city officials should continue to move forward with the Crown Park renovations.

“You’ll hear from certain people, during parks commission meetings, ‘Hey, this master plan was done five years ago, and we need to revisit it,’ but that is the typical progress of a project. If we were to go back and revisit the master plan every single time, it would be a never-ending cycle of time and come at significant cost, and nothing would get done,” Irving recently told the Post-Record.

Irving said he hopes council members will remember that the Crown Park project represents what thousands of community members have said they want via open houses, surveys and public outreach over the past six years.

“I hope they listen to the community and act on that and move forward,” Irving said. “It would be difficult and costly to continue revisiting the master plan.”