Camas on track to OK Crown Park design work
The Camas City Council is expected to approve a contract later this month that will kickstart preliminary design work on the city’s long-awaited Crown Park Master Plan.
The Council will likely OK the $112,503 contract with GreenWorks, PC, a Portland-based landscape architecture and environmental design company, as part of the consent agenda on the Council’s Feb. 22 regular meeting agenda.
Parks and Recreation Director Trang Lam presented the contract details to the Council earlier this month, and said she selected GreenWorks — a consultant that has worked with the Port of Camas-Washougal on its Parker’s Landing waterfront project as well as the city of Camas on its 2017-18 Crown Park master planning – to help preserve the history of the nearly 4-year-old Crown Park Master Plan.
“This is a really complicated master plan,” Lam told Camas city councilmembers during their Feb. 7 workshop. “I, as project manager, wasn’t part of that conversation (in 2018), but the entire GreenWorks team (that originally worked on the Crown Park Master Plan) is still in existence, so they’re all coming back to support me … we have a lot of history here, a lot of history with the community, and I felt that history was important as we go forward with the design.”
In November, Lam approached the Council with options for moving forward with all or parts of the park’s master plan.
Lam asked the city officials then: Did they want to build a permanent bathroom and table other elements; complete just the major features — including an interactive water feature, ADA-accessible pathways, an inclusive playground, a sports court, improvements to the pavillion and build a new bathroom — or build the entire park according to master plans the city council approved in 2018?
“The Council at that time directed (me) to try to do the entire park but, at the same time, to be flexible to align with the PROS (Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces) Plan underway right now,” Lam said.
The parks and recreation director decided a 30-percent design project, encompassing all elements of the master plan, would provide more data for city officials.
“This will give us a good estimate of all that’s here,” Lam said.
“This does align with the PROS Plan I’ve been working on with the Parks and Recreation,” Lam added. “The community wants us to take care of what we have; they want trails; and they want to build some new amenities.”
Implementing the Crown Park Master Plan would meet all three desires, Lam said.
“It takes care of what we have; adds new amenities — an all-inclusive playground (equipment) and a splash pad – and builds some trails within the park that are ADA accessible.”
“This really does align with what we’re hearing in the community,” Lam told city councilmembers on Feb. 7.
Lam added in her staff report to Council that “extensive public engagement was completed during the Master Planning process (in 2018), and that, “during that time and since then, the City continues to hear from the community that additional features at Crown Park, specifically the water feature, is needed to both improve the aging park and replace the pool facility that was removed several years ago.”
Lam said the next phase of design work also will include public outreach.
“Additional public engagement is included in the consultant contract to ensure that the 30-percent design represents the community’s desired outcome for the park features within the Master Plan, specifically the water feature and playground,” Lam told city councilmembers in her staff report.
Lam added that, though many community– members may wish to see every element of the master plan incorporated into Crown Park in the near future — including a new sports court, interactive water feature and inclusive playground equipment — “based on available funding for construction, the City may need to make some hard decisions during value engineering if we do not have enough funds to build all features.”
The 30-percent design project is funded in the city’s 2021-22 budget, Lam added.
Costs have gone up since city approved master plan in 2018
In November 2021, Lam updated the Camas City Council on the master plan and said some of the initial cost estimates have changed since consultants worked on the plan in 2017 and 2018.
“The estimate in 2018 for all of the features was $5.6 million, now it’s closer to $6.2 million,” Lam said.
Even a paired-down “option 2,” which would include most of the master plan’s major features — including an interactive splash pad, new playground equipment, ADA-accessible paths, a sports court, improvements to the park’s existing pavillion and a new, permanent restroom — would cost at least $3.1 million instead of the 2018 estimate of $2.6 million, Lam said.
If the city were to move ahead with just one permanent restroom at the park, Lam said, the cost would be around $831,000, due to the accompanying costs associated with bringing utilities to the restroom and creating ADA-accessible paths around the bathroom.
“Over the last several years, particularly through COVID and even before that, we’ve seen large fluctuations in pricing and, more recently, in the costs for getting materials,” Lam told city council members in November. “If we stabilize, the costs may be lower. But these are cautionary numbers we’ve put in there … and there are things that are unforeseen that we need to budget for.”
If approved by the Council at its Feb. 22 meeting, the GreenWorks PC contract will bring a finished work product back to the city by March 31, 2023, unless city officials grant an extension, and will not exceed $112,503.46.
GreenWorks has agreed to provide the city with design development for the full Crown Park Master Plan, which includes a set of 30-percent design drawings, preliminary cost estimates, a public meeting, tree assessments, a meeting with the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, and two rounds of value engineering to determine cost savings. The consultants also provide an updated site survey and geotechnical engineering.
The design development phase will cost $96,303, while the site survey and geotechnical investigation will cost $2,000 and $14,200, respectively. The consultant’s hourly rates range from $100 an hour for a landscape designer II to $180 an hour for a technical director.
Pool question remains
Lam told city councilmembers on Feb. 7, she realizes the master plan conversations also must touch on the swimming pool that used to be sited inside Crown Park.
“I acknowledge that this history also involves a pool,” Lam said. “We are a growing community, and, while we have loved our pool (at Crown Park), we can also love a pool somewhere else. I feel the community has done the hard work of doing this master plan … and that this is the right plan to move forward.”
Still, Lam said, she does feel that city leaders must continue to have a conversation with the community about the need for a public swimming pool — just not necessarily a swimming pool inside Crown Park.
Asked by Councilmember Leslie Lewallen if Lam believed the interactive water feature — also referred to as a “splash pad” in the Crown Park Master Plan was “something the citizens really wanted or a consolation prize for the removal of the original pool,”
Lam said she believed the water feature was something the community had wanted.
“While I wasn’t here (in 2018, when the city approved the master plan and voted to dismantle the aging outdoor swimming pool), this is the history I’ve cobbled together: the pool idea (the city’s bond measure asking Camas voters if they would support a $78 million aquatics center with two pools and a new community center) and the master plan were moving in parallel,” Lam said. “So I don’t think this was a consolation prize for not getting a pool. A splash pad and pool are totally separate concepts. In a community you would, ideally, have both.”
Councilmember Shannon Roberts later asked Lam if the city could choose to remove the splash pad “in the future” if the community decided it would rather pay for the city to build an outdoor pool inside Crown Park.
Lam said that would be possible, “if this was the site that the community, at the end of the day, chooses.”
During the city’s public outreach in 2017 and 2018, the majority of community members polled in-person and through surveys supported an interactive water feature at Crown Park.
In 2017, the Camas City Council learned the city’s historic, outdoor swimming pool at Crown Park was failing and would cost the city more than $2 million for repairs not guaranteed to last.
The city had spent $75,000 upgrading and repairing the pool before opening for the 10-week swimming season in 2017, and city officials said the city often had to supplement the pool using general funds. In 2016, for example, the pool brought in $104,010, but cost the city $162,164 to operate.
In early 2018, after the state’s Department of Public Health said the city would need to spend at least $400,000 just to open the pool in 2018 and a report by GreenWorks showed the pool was “dying” with “almost everything in the pool failing,” city officials voted to close the pool.
Months later, in November 2018, city officials decided a splash pad was a more feasible option than a replacement swimming pool in Crown Park.
Though 90 percent of Camas voters knocked down the city’s 2019 proposal to build a $78 million aquatics-community center, a recent survey of more than 1,000 Camas residents for city’s PROS Plan, showed the majority of respondents said they were either “very supportive” (40 percent) or “somewhat supportive” (28.5 percent) of a pool or aquatic center. That recreational option, however, was in the middle of the pack when it came to what the majority of survey respondents said they strongly supported for Camas parks, recreational opportunities and open spaces. Among the amenities that garnered the most votes for “very supportive” were: additional walking trails in parks (59.2%), additional biking trails in parks (47.4%), all-abilities, accessible playground equipment (45.4%), outdoor splash pad or water spray park (44.2%), and updated or renovated playgrounds at existing parks (41.4%).