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Monday, February 26, 2024
Feb. 26, 2024

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Crown Park Renovation: Camas City Council OKs full remodel

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CAMAS — The majority of the Camas City Council said last week they support moving forward with renovations for all of Crown Park instead of taking a piecemeal approach or halting the master planning project altogether.

“This has been a challenging project,” Councilman Don Chaney said during the council’s Dec. 4 workshop. “In 2018, I remember when the consultant came out and made a presentation. From that point forward, we built expectations. We went through COVID, through difficult economic times, but we have funding for it now. … And we’ll work hard to let our public know we’re delivering.”

Camas Parks and Recreation Director Trang Lam approached the council Monday to discuss pre-ordering items for Crown Park, as well as the South Lacamas Creek trailhead — both of which received $500,000 grants from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office earlier this year — and to get council feedback on three options for moving forward with the $6.3 million Crown Park master plan renovations that have already gone through nearly six years’ worth of planning and design work.

The council approved a Crown Park master plan in 2018. At that time, Lam reminded the council last week, the cost estimate for the entire park renovation — which includes an interactive splash pad, inclusive playground, new restroom, improved trails and more — was $6.2 million. Four years later, when the city had completed 30 percent of the design work, that estimate had bumped up to $7.9 million.

“We said, ‘Let us do more work … we’re going to try to stay within budget and get all the elements in the master plan,” Lam said Dec. 4, adding her team has been able to whittle down costs and will “try to stick to $6.3 million” for a renovation that includes the entire park and all of the elements included in the original master plan approved by city officials in 2018.

The project will be funded by the $500,000 state Recreation and Conservation Office grant and $3 million from a general obligation bond earmarked for parks use the council approved in 2022. The remainder will come from the city’s real estate excise tax and park impact fees paid by developers to help fund new amenities to serve new residents. None of the Crown Park funding will come from the city’s general fund, Lam said.

3 options

On Dec. 4, Lam presented the council with three options for moving forward:

Option 1 would allow the city to evaluate bids for the entire project and meet the requirements of the state grant, which stipulates that Camas must complete certain elements, including the new restroom, the inclusive playground and the $530,000 splash pad, by Oct. 31, 2025.

Option 2 would go out for bid on just the elements included in the Recreation and Conservation Office grant area and could indefinitely postpone the remainder of the Crown Park renovations included in the master plan.

Option 3 would not move forward with the Crown Park improvements and the city would have to return the $500,000 Recreation and Conservation Office grant, possibly jeopardizing Camas’ chances of securing future Recreation and Conservation Office grants.

Two council members — Leslie Lewallen and Jennifer Senescu — said they would prefer Option 2.

Senescu, who was appointed to the council earlier this year and recently won her bid for a four-year term, said she favored Option 2, but had “misgivings” about the splash pad element, which garnered high marks in community surveys during the Crown Park master plan process, as well as the more recent Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan outreach that gathered input from more than 1,000 community members.

“I believe the splash pad was something the public didn’t necessarily want, but they couldn’t have a pool,” Senescu said Dec. 4. “I think it’s a lot of money … and I think the splash pad will contribute to the homeless problem. I have misgivings about the splash pad.”

In the end, however, the majority of the council agreed on Option 1.

“I see four for Option 1,” Camas Mayor Steve Hogan noted. “So we are going to move ahead with Option 1.”

Lam has said she expects to go out for bid in January 2024. If all goes according to plan, construction on Crown Park would begin in spring 2024, and the city would move the park’s popular events — including the annual Easter egg hunt and Movies in the Park — to other Camas locations during the construction period.

The council will consider Lam’s request to purchase items for Crown Park and the South Lacamas Creek trailhead renovations, including $533,295 in playground equipment, nearly $1 million for restrooms ($623,448 for the Crown Park bathroom and $356,738 for the South Lacamas Creek bathroom), $36,558 for nature play equipment and $15,750 for log furniture for Crown Park, during the consent agenda portion of the council’s regular meeting Dec. 18.

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