City

At the Camas City Council workshop meeting Monday night, the council unanimously gave direction to city staff to prepare a general obligation bond this November to fund the construction of a new aquatics center.

The news is a major breakthrough in the years-long battle to build a new aquatics center to accommodate the growing demands of all competitive and recreational swimmers, as well as address learn-to-swim and health-related programs.

“We gave staff direction to look at the Buhman property, which is adjacent to Fallen Leaf Lake, across from Heritage Park,” said Camas Mayor, Shannon Turk. “The land, which is just over six acres, is already owned by the City of Camas, and Camas residents have made it very clear they want a new pool. I feel this is a positive step forward.”

Monday’s motion gives staff direction to prepare a general obligation bond that will be presented to voters on the November ballot. The general obligation bond would fund the construction of the new aquatics center.

“Council will look at other sites in Camas, as well, and to look at getting a general obligation bond, which is putting a vote to the people on whether they would be willing to pay for a new pool,” said Turk.

Aquatics Center
Archived plans for a pool site near Fall Leaf Lake.

Over the past several months, Camas has been meeting with Washougal to build a community center that has a pool, and Turk said it was time to change the direction.

“Although we’re not saying no to a partnership with Washougal, we feel it’s in our best interest to go forward without them,” said Turk. “The meetings with Washougal weren’t moving this forward.”

City Council member, Melissa Smith, agreed.

“The bond amount hasn’t been determined, and this directs staff to look at property and put in a phased approach,” said Smith. “Timing is in November, and we would have to know the bond amount by August 6.”

Smith added there is potential to buy surrounding parcels, but that’s very preliminary.

“We could accommodate the needs for a 50,000 square foot pool facility,” said Smith. “If we went further and wanted to add more, there would be potential for that.”

Turk said this general obligation bond would be offset by the retiring of the Camas Public Library general obligation bond, which happens in 2019. “This bond would be offsetting,” she said.

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Smith said the city staff will also exhaust every possible site, and that preparing this for the November ballot is a super tight timeframe, but doable.

“We have to take advantage of the momentum,” said City Council member, Don Chaney. “Shannon embraces this. We have a chance to do it. If the people say no, they say no. The challenge will be to make the timeline. The community will see that we heard them.”

The city has made numerous failed attempts to build a new aquatics center over the years, but Turk is determined.

“We’re not going to fail anymore,” said Turk.

Chaney said this location is optimum.

“People talk about location,” said Chaney. “I have a different view, it has to be a destination. It’s like Crown Park, and a competitive pool will bring money to downtown. This plan has full council support. We are re-engineering the intersection there, and that will be a big improvement. It was a great meeting today. Everyone should be happy with that meeting.”

Aquatics Center
A pool concept used in Camas pool planning.

Camas has been feeling the effects of losing access to aquatic centers over the past two years. First, the Crown Park Pool was closed, and then Camas High School swim teams were no longer allowed to use the Lacamas Athletic Club’s pool.

“It’s been a real challenge,” said Dave Peddie, a part of the 2018 State Champion Camas High School Boys Swim team. “Losing our home pool hurt us.”

Local residents have also been dismayed at losing the Crown Park Pool, feeling like their children are missing out on great summertime experiences, as well as the loss of valuable swimming lessons.

“This is great news,” said Darlene Lumbard, Head Coach of Columbia River Swim Team. “This is a chance to build a pool for everyone. We can all come together with a good design to reach all the things our community needs. A center encompasses all kinds of things with a competitive pool. Building the right aquatics center will have everything from competitive to therapeutic. It should have all the necessary programming.

“A well-run aquatics center has a private team, a high school team, recreation, learn to swim, scuba, kayak training, water therapy, silver sneakers. I would prefer a deep end because you can do so much more with a deep end. You can do synchro, diving, and water polo. This is a great opportunity to build the right pool. There’s no diving in the community, and there are a lot of gymnasts here. The deep end should go into a five foot, and then maybe with an L to it, where you have your learn-to-swim pool. You can put in your therapeutic work there, as well. This is so exciting!”

The next article will look at aquatics center design options and what they can do for a community.

Gallery: Examples of Aquatics Centers

9 replies
  1. Erin K Osten
    Erin K Osten says:

    I SO welcome and would vote for a bond for a pool in Camas. However, that location is already crazy packed with illegally parked cars in the bike lans of Lake Road and Everett Rd. Plus, a couple other thoughts.

    We need diving platforms – there are none in SW Washington and we have members of our community and surrounding areas that are incredibly talented and having to drive to Beaverton to develop their skills.

    I feel like the splash park is redundant when they are putting something in at Crown Park for that small moment in the lives of kiddos that would be interested in that (ages 18mos to 7yo?). Although it would be a nice getaway in the winter – so, I am torn on that.

    It would also be nice to have some way to open up the pool to the outdoors – even if it is just large garage door roll up type that brings the outdoors in and allows people to sit outside and cool off by easily walking in to take a dip in the pool? I don’t know but it sure would be a great asset.

    Reply
  2. Charity Feb
    Charity Feb says:

    THANK YOU Camas City Council for moving quickly on this issue! Oh, hooray. I’m so excited, and so are my kids. I literally have not been able to look at the demolition of the old pool when we drive by it (all the time). I shield my eyes, it hurts my heart so. City of Camas, thank you. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

    Reply
  3. Ann Murphy
    Ann Murphy says:

    So very cool to think that there is real progress on this! How exciting.

    I think there are a lot of issues with that site though. There is already so much traffic there, especially when the weather is nice and everyone wants to be out on the lake. Pedestrians crossing the road, cars parked at crazy angles barely off the road. I cannot imagine what traffic and parking would be like when there is a swim meet for either a private swim club or a high school meet. I would imagine there are some other locations that would be appropriate without creating safety issues.

    Reply
  4. Beau Martin
    Beau Martin says:

    The community already has two excellent pools and is surrounded by others (Lacamas, Cascade, Firstenburg) and we’re already building splash pool in Crown park. There is no lack of facilities. The only real question here is whether we should build yet another so people that don’t swim can pay even higher property taxes to subsidize those that do.

    My guess is that less than 10% of the community would make regular use of the pool, and fewer than 1 in 5 would make seasonal use of it. 100% would have to pay. Our property taxes have nearly doubled since we moved here less than 10 years ago. It’s time for that to stop. This is that line.

    As for diving, it’s dangerous. Not only the diving, which has a “really high injury rate” but even the ladders, which cause slips and more serious injuries. It’s one of the reasons you no longer see diving boards at pools like you did as a kid. The other of course is insurance. https://americanpool.com/2014/09/diving-boards-make-pool-dangerous/#.XKeCGZhKhPY

    And while it’s easy to post pretty pictures of pools from successful builds all over the country, what they should be posting is pictures of dollars, as that’s what this is all about, since we already have pools.

    Reply
  5. Ken Navidi
    Ken Navidi says:

    I like the idea of a pool, yet I wish this were a collaborative effort with the City of Washougal. Some people may disagree with this statement, yet many Washougal residents enjoy many of the amenities of Camas, and vise versa. Its time these two communities start thinking regionally how to share the cost of impacts and amenities of growth. The pool is one amenity both communities can share, as far as location I can’t help but think of a better spot than the old bowling alley site at the intersection of 3rd & Shepard. Not only would that site be perfect spot for a pool and between 2 communities but it also would allow access to the Washougal River and provide another access to the river, the Sandy Swimming Hole gets way to crowded in the summer.

    Reply
  6. Alisa
    Alisa says:

    It would even be fantastic if there was – connected to this facility – a launchpoint for open water swimming into Fallen Leaf Lake! Double Bonus…..!!!!!!

    Reply
  7. Leslie Chasse
    Leslie Chasse says:

    I really hope they plan on relocating the classic old home and other buildings. To just destroy them would be a really senseless waste.

    Reply
  8. Barb
    Barb says:

    I would be 100% behind this aquatic center. I would like to see lab swimming and water aerobics for seniors. This is a need for this population. Thank you for listening.

    Reply

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