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News / Clark County News

Washougal eager for ‘big splash’ in town center; Construction set to start in 2025 despite $970,000 shortfall

By Doug Flanagan, Camas-Washougal Post-Record
Published: March 2, 2024, 6:03am
2 Photos
The city of Washougal&rsquo;s Town Center Revitalization project.
The city of Washougal’s Town Center Revitalization project. (Graphic courtesy of the city of Washougal) Photo Gallery

WASHOUGAL — A nearly million-dollar shortfall won’t derail the Washougal Town Center Revitalization, according to Washougal City Manager David Scott.

Scott is confident that the city will be able to complete the project despite a $970,000 budget shortfall.

The city has $8.15 million in funding from various sources for the project, which is estimated to cost $9.12 million. Construction is expected to start in 2025.

“We’re a little short, but there’s a pretty healthy contingency of $800,000, so it really just depends as we refine the design,” Scott said during the Washougal City Council’s Feb. 11 workshop. “I have a high level of confidence that we’ll be able to deliver this project and do something really special in our town center, even though it is costing more than what we thought it would.”

City officials introduced plans for the project in May 2022.

According to the city, the project will offer an outdoor community space, an off-leash dog park, a pocket park with potential splash pad/water feature, and improved and expanded parking near FVRLibraries’ planned building, the Washougal Community Center and City Hall.

“New urban greenspace will provide opportunities for passive recreation that supports individuals of all ages and will provide new opportunities for recreational programming at the adjacent community center. Improved access to the FVRL and nearby Town Center businesses will serve as a major catalyst for redevelopment, encouraging new businesses to locate in this area and individuals to stay, play and shop in Washougal,” according to the city.

Jeremy Fick, a civil engineer for Vancouver-based Robertson Fick Engineering; and Nate Otani, principal designer for Shapiro-Didway, a Portland-based landscape architecture firm, provided city leaders and council members with a first look at new 3-D renderings.

“The design updates are taking shape,” Otani said.

The consultants described some of the elements.

“We have the splash pad and entry plaza that creates that greater connection to C Street,” Otani said. “We have the pocket park that we heard through the survey was preferred to have its own designated space. … And we still have the large dog park and small dog park along the northern portion of the site.”

The design and architecture firms developed a list of 10 guiding principles for the project based on input from city staff, stakeholder meetings and online survey responses, Otani said.

“Those guiding principles are community, gathering, multiuse, natural character, accessible, inclusive, resilient, sustainable and multigenerational,” he said. “From that, a design narrative was created to function as the ‘north star’ for the project.”

The projected cost of the project increased as a result of modifications requested by community members through a city survey and an open house held in November, according to Scott.

“I heard someone say, ‘This is more than (it was) two years ago.’ It is, because the project is more,” Scott said. “The team heard all the feedback from the surveys and stakeholder meetings. … This has been a really high priority for the council, and so we have been ‘all in’ to try to make this happen and to try to make a big splash with this project.”

Fick said 23 items could be “value engineered” to save around $470,000.

“Most of those represent some scaling back,” Fick said. “Maybe we scale back some of the pavers by 20 percent, or we scale back the size of the shelters by 20 percent. The deficit, after accepting these value engineering ideas, would be closer to a half a million dollars.”

Fick said cost estimates also include $800,000 for contingencies.

“(That) means that if we ignore the contingency, we’re actually under budget,” he said. “But we always included a contingency at this early stage because there’s going to be things that we haven’t gotten into yet just because we’re not to that level of detail.”

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