It was standing room only at Thursday’s annual Camas State of the Community at Lacamas Lake Lodge, which featured addresses from Port of Camas Washougal Director Dave Ripp, City of Camas Mayor Shannon Turk, and Camas School District Superintendent Jeff Snell.
Camas School District School Board President, Doug Quinn, served as Master of Ceremonies while the Camas School Orchestra (Rose Hinchliff, Ireland McGree, and Luke Martinez) performed the prelude music and Autumn Sterle sang the National Anthem.
State of the Port of Camas Washougal
At the onset of his address, Ripp said the Port receives income from three sources: 1) Grove Field airport ($153,837 net); 2) The CW Marina ($417,859 net); and 3) Property/commerce center leases ($1,660,988 net).
Ripp then discussed the Port’s work on the Washougal waterfront development.
“We’ve been working on this since 2010,” said Ripp. “The site was originally a lumber mill, which closed down. We wanted to do something that enhances what’s there and have the public enjoy it.”
He explained obtaining the site was possible through a grant, which has two phases: 1) Cleanup; and 2) Planning. In 2014, the Port did the full cleanup, and in 2015, they built the park and trail, and purchased the remaining portion of the Killian site. Once the trail was finished, they looked at master planning, hired an outside firm, and then presented the public with three options, all of which include public access to the waterfront.
“In 2021 we want to put a shovel in the ground to get it moving,” said Ripp. “On June 7, the natural play area was opened to the public on June 7. This is our crown jewel of waterfront trail park.”
Ripp then explained the growth and success of the Steigerwald Commerce Center, which received $3 million in grants allowing the Port to double the building’s size. Six businesses are presently there, and the center is operating at 100 percent occupancy. They are now looking at Building 19, a 27,000 square foot facility purchased this year.
The new roundabouts are very helpful with business trade at the Commerce Center, said Ripp, though he acknowledges neighbor frustration.
State of the City of Camas
In her first State of the Community address, Mayor Shannon Turk spoke about four topics:
- Infrastructure improvements
- Economic development
- Recreation opportunities
“The infrastructure improvements that we will be working on this year enhance safety and traffic flow on our roads and ensure the availability of clean water.”
Significant improvements will be made on Brady Road from 16th Avenue to Pacific Rim Boulevard, which include the following:
- Widening the roadway
- Addition of bike lanes
- Street lighting and landscaping
- Center turn lane/median
- Utility work begins this fall thru winter
- Final work/paving — late summer 2020
A two-million-gallon reservoir will be built at NW 18th and Tidland to help the city maintain its commitment to providing clean, quality water to all areas of the city.
Turk also provided an update on the Lake/Everett Road roundabout, scheduled for construction from 2020 to 2021, and showed a fly-over traffic simulation, as seen here: https://youtu.be/iFlQ51XrSyM
The North shore subarea plan (the area north of Lacamas Lake) furthers the vision of our city leaders in the 1980s, she said, and is “setting up our city for the next three to four decades.” The area contains 800 acres of land, of which 160 acres is owned by the city for legacy land open spaces and land preservation (along the north shore).
The North Shore plan creates new developments including homes, shops, and master planned commercial development.
“It shows where we need to invest,” said Turk. “Visit www.camasnorthshore.com, where you can learn more or provide input by taking a survey.”
During the next portion of her talk, recreation opportunities, Turk discussed the Community Aquatics Center and Sports Field bond measure. The 78,000-square-foot multi-use facility includes a recreational pool, lap/competitive pool, community spaces, multipurpose gym, locker rooms, child watch area, and many other amenities. Turk worked with Camas City Council to put this project to vote, known as Proposition 2, on the November ballot. During her presentation, she explained the need for the new facilities, cited decades-long support for the project, and encouraged all Camas residents to continue to provide input on the design, location, and features of the project, which will continue to be refined after November 5.
“This provides an opportunity for seniors to be active and socialize, as part of an aging-in-place strategy,” said Turk. “It gives our children and teens an opportunity to play sports for fun through intramural programs, increasing their activity and connecting them with friends, instead of what they hold in their hand. And it allows us to ensure that all of our children in our city know how to swim and view our community center as a destination for fun diving, instead of swinging off rope swings or jumping off rocks. This is a 78,000-square-foot facility that is designed to highlight the natural surroundings. This is our concept and it is beautiful. That does not mean that things will not be tweaked or changed, but right now this looks awesome.”
“We did put a bond on the ballot and we are asking you to pay for this,” said Turk. “There’s $72 million for the center, $37.2 million of that amount goes to building the facility itself. The rest goes to offsite and onsite improvements including parking at Heritage Park, a roundabout that will help you get in and out of Heritage Park and proposed Community Center easily. It includes a light at Lake Road and Sierra … These costs are in here.”
Turk said the ballot measure also includes $6 million in sports field renovations (new turf, fields, and lighting).
Contractors will be selected for the project through a bidding process. The city expects to receive competitive bids, which will likely come in significantly lower than the estimated $78 million price tag. Private donations could further lower the overall cost. If the final price tag of the project is indeed less, the city will reduce the projected tax rate of $1.04 per $1,000 in assessed property value, and collect fewer taxes from residents. (Any new taxes would not start until 2021.)
Moving on to the final topic her presentation, Turk explained the city’s commitment to improving city communications. She emphasized the reintroduction of council ward meetings, as well as the inclusion of more open house events, surveys, social media posts, and project mailers.
Turk also introduced Camas 101, which is an eight-class program, starting in January 2020, that includes the following:
- Learn more about your city
- History of Camas
- Role of Mayor and City Council
- How projects are determined and funded
- What the city actually does
- Creating a connected and engaged community — wants people to learn about local non-profits.
“We instituted ward meetings in the spring and will do more in the Fall,” said Turk.
State of Camas School District
“Our focus this year is writing our collective story,” said Snell. “You give your best into that school year with all your hopes and dreams. You take each year’s lessons and apply them to the next year. We get to shape what those stories look like. We see and serve each student. Each means each of you will get something out of this.”
He’s also pleased that Helen Baller Special Education teacher, Amy Campbell, was named as Teacher of the Year.
“We’re excited she gets a platform to advocate for special education and to represent Camas School District,” said Snell. “I can’t think of a better person to do that.”
Snell provided a review of the challenges that McCleary legislation created, the stress it placed on levies and that they will continue to work within these constraints.
“We want to inspire them to be learners,” he said. “Standardized tests are one thing, but we need to do the very best we can with our students. They will be making decisions about our community and world.”
He said the Garver Theatre is coming back online from the 2016 bond.
Read more about the last State of the Community address here: https://lacamasmagazine.com/2018/09/mayor-higgins-snell-deliver-camas-state-of-the-community-speeches.html