Community Aquatics Center

This article is a recap of what City of Camas Administrator Pete Capell shared with the entire audience at the beginning of the Camas Community Aquatics Center Open House on Wednesday night. Lacamas Magazine provided a live stream of the entire proceedings on our Lacamas Magazine Facebook page. It included Capell’s presentation and about 45 minutes of a question and answer session between several residents and Camas Mayor Shannon Turk.

Why the city put the bond forward:

  • Various City Councils have studied the feasibility of a Community Center for over three decades.
  • Through numerous surveys, a year-round swimming pool and a recreational center have consistently been the number one requested amenity.
  • Cost was the same argument used against building the library 20 years ago. The library is now a community treasure and widely believed to have made a significant contribution to initiating the downtown renovation.

Aquatic Center Features & Benefits:

  • A recreational pool with slides and a lazy river are routinely top attractions in an Aquatics Center. This is included in the plans for our Aquatic Center.
  • There is a strong demand for a lap pool in our community. This includes high school students, a strong master’s program and everyday citizens who want to swim for exercise. We are surrounded by lakes and rivers. Teaching our kids to swim is a high priority.
  • The city and the school district have discussed the possibility of having every student in Camas School District receive swimming and water safety lessons as part of their curriculum. The community does not have a good place for senior citizens and teens to meet and partake in activities. The community rooms will fill this void.
  • There will be an indoor path that will allow for a safe and dry place to exercise.
  • A multipurpose gym will allow sports leagues (e.g. basketball, volleyball, etc), small groups and individuals to practice and play inside.
Aquatics Center
A Camas swimmer at Kelso. Local swim teams often have to travel long distances to compete.

Cost Comparisons:

  • The same architect that designed Firstenburg in 2006 used published building cost escalation factors to show that if Firstenburg was built in 2021, it would cost approximately $35.6 mil, as compared to the estimated building cost of $37.2 mil for the proposed Aquatic Center. It was also noted, our center has planned for a lap pool, while Firstenburg does not have one.
  • The City of Hillsboro expects to open a two-story 51,500 square foot community center in 2021 at a cost of $37 mil. Our Aquatic Center is planned to be 72,000 square feet.

Other planned amenities:

  • Frontage improvements to Lake Road, including trails and sidewalks.
  • Additional parking spaces (242) for both the Aquatic Center and Heritage Park boat launch.
  • Intersection improvements at Lake and Sierra, including a traffic signal.
  • Sports field improvements at Forest Home, Dorothy Fox and Prune Hill, which includes lighting and synthetic turf.

Property Tax impact:

  • If the bond is approved by voters, starting in 2021 residents will pay approximately $1.04 per $1,000 in assessed property value. This equates to approximately $500 per year for the median assessed valued house of $464,000. The property tax will likely decrease each year as new construction and property values increase. We will have a fixed debt service amount, so as property values increase, the rates go down.
  • In 2021 the projected $1.32 of school district bond levy taxes, as well as 12 cents in the library building levy tax are set to expire. This could then lead to a net reduction in taxes by 40 cents per $1000 of assessed property value.
  • With recent legislation to address statewide school funding, the school board will be deciding later this year whether to increase the local operating levy up to $1.00 for 2020.
  • The levy is for a maximum of $72 mil. If the levy passes, the city will secure competitive bids and pursue grants and private/corporate donations to reduce the amount taxpayers will pay. It is easier to obtain other monies, when you already have public funding.

Operating Costs:

  • Camas City Council has committed to not take away any funding from essential services to cover operating costs. The building costs will be covered by the bond.
  • The city anticipates operating costs will need to be subsidized by other city revenues. Current estimates of up to $850,000 in operational costs have been projected if operated by city staff. Due to an overlap in recreational services saving the city $400,000, the city would need to subsidize up to $450,000 per year. The YMCA could operate the facility with limited subsidy. The city also projects revenues and reserves to be sufficient to cover by the time we build.
  • Camas residents that pay taxes towards the center will pay lower membership and/or user fees.


  • The city’s preliminary analysis shows the proposed site will meet traffic, parking needs and protect the environment.
  • The roundabout at the intersection of Lake and Everett will be completed prior to the community center and will address congestion at that location.
  • This project has separate funding (partially by the state). If the project passes, the city will do further analysis regarding the site and are prepared to move the facility to another location if a better site is found.
  • Alternative sites were mentioned as previously being evaluated and/or discussed, and some will continue to be evaluated.

Crown Park:

  • Estimates to provide very basic and temporary repairs to the pool were $300,000. Over $2 mil was estimated for significant renovations with uncertain longevity. A replacement pool in in the same location was estimated to cost over $3.5 mil.
  • A new modern pool on the site could not be supported by adequate parking and we would only be able to operate it 10 to 11 weeks out of the year. The city is still committed to a master plan for Crown Park. This will be phased in over multiple years, beginning with a replacement basketball court next year.
  • If the proposition passes, the city wants to hear from the community as they proceed with the project. They will form advisory committees for the various aspects of the project and will hold additional open houses to share progress and gain feedback.

For more information, go to

6 replies
  1. Ayla M Gokturk
    Ayla M Gokturk says:

    Horribly one sided reporting on the part of Lacamas Magazine. There are numerous questions and concerns regarding this bond and the planning, financing, and lack of transparency for this community center. Will Lacamas Magazine be publishing a rebuttal article and website posting? Go to for rebuttal to this ill-conceived and poorly thought out community center.

  2. L’Rae Scherwinski
    L’Rae Scherwinski says:

    We are former Camasonians and recently relocated to Kenosha, Wi. The Recplex is a phenomenal 3000,000 sq ft facility, built WITHOUT public money as a gift to the community. It can be done and there are amazing models for those willing to think outside the box. Hosting swim meets is a huge endeavor and the new location in Camas will not have adequate parking, especially in the summer when Lacamas Lake is going full tilt. It really makes me wonder if the city has fully done their homework. A pool is so essential to SW Washington, but one done poorly is no help to the community.


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