Been to Washougal lately? If not, please allow us to brag a little about one of the newest jewels in The Intertwine’s crown, our Waterfront Park and Trail.
Part of an ongoing plan to create a lively, walkable community space, the park and trail wows with magnificent views, touch-and-learn signage, rain gardens and plentiful artwork. The waterfront is now connected through kiosks and wayfinding signs to local downtowns and other area trail systems. The park and trail was completed in September 2016 with lit parking lots at each end, solar-powered restrooms, and a public picnic shelter.
But that’s not all. Coming in spring 2018 is a natural play area with log steppers, balancing beams, a hillside slide, vegetation tunnel, musical instruments, a boulder maze and an interactive statue of Sasquatch. With a climbing rope and bouncy turf base, all ages will be able to enjoy the legendary creature up close.
What once was a lumber mill site has been dedicated as space for generations to enjoy. In 2016 the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office gave the Port of Camas-Washougal its Bravo Award, honoring it as a top project of the year. The Port went on to become Salmon-Safe Certified, vowing that the park and trail will always be maintained in an environmentally friendly way and will help to restore the salmon run in the Columbia.
The Washougal Waterfront Park and Trail was years in the making, and result of close partnerships. Here’s a look at how it all happened:
It was February 2014 when I started working at the Port; the Washougal Waterfront Project had been in progress for almost 3 years. It was hard to fully grasp the magnitude of this project until I went back and reviewed all the work put in and progress made.
Let me take you back to where it all began. The City of Washougal is a small town just outside Vancouver, Washington, conveniently located at the "Gateway to the Gorge" along the largest river in the Pacific Northwest, the Columbia. The Port of Camas-Washougal represents two towns, Camas and Washougal, which are home to an industrial park, marina, airport and four major parks and trail systems.
One focus of the Port has always been to expand our cities’ parks and trails. The vision of the Port commission and staff is to provide economic growth that benefits the local economy, and to encourage this area to flourish and grow while respecting its beauty and preserving its natural state for generations to enjoy. What better way to honor this than to create a new Waterfront Park and Trail?
In 2011, the Port began work on an Integrated Planning Grant process (IPG) for waterfront property that was once home to the Hambleton Lumber Mill. The mill was in operation from 1948 to 2010, and at one time, the property contained an equipment shop, chemical storage shed, house, mill, de-barker, aggregate recycling yard and a planer building. The purpose of the IPG was to help the Port conduct environmental due diligence of the property, to involve the community in the process, and to prepare a concept plan for redevelopment of the waterfront.
We held business stakeholder interviews, community open houses, and prepared a concept plan to help us form goals. When engaging the public with this project, community priorities became very clear: waterfront access for the community was a must -- connections to the Camas and Washougal downtowns with good pedestrian and bike access, with the peninsula set aside for open green space and enhanced habitat quality on the shoreline.
Many community members were very passionate that the Port utilize the river as an anchor to the area, rather than as a “Big Box” store, while bringing in some mixed commercial, retail, recreational opportunities and residential spaces. Protecting view corridors and not competing with the downtown businesses was a must.
Once the IPG process was complete in 2012, the Port went on to purchase 13.23 acres of the waterfront property and an adjoining property located on 6th street. Environmental results of the IPG showed areas of contamination that needed to be remediated. The cleanup of the waterfront took place starting in March 2013, when the Port received $516,523 from a Washington State Department of Ecology grant.
During the cleanup, the Port partnered with a team of graduate students from PSU’s urban studies program to craft a Waterfront Vision Plan, a community vision for the waterfront that connects and complements the downtowns. By studying other waterfronts and through door-to-door outreach, events and open houses, surveys in person and online, and several forms of interviews, it was determined that the project’s main focus should be preserving what already existed and building on that to create a safe, fun, recreational and educational place.
In May 2015 the Port was awarded three grants totaling over $1.7 million from the Washington Wildlife Recreation Program for Trails, the Washington Wildlife Recreation Program for Water Access, and The Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account. This news echoed through the towns, and you could feel the excitement for the future of the waterfront.
As time went on, construction, landscaping and plantings really came to life. 2017 has truly been a dream, watching this park and trail grow into the beautiful centerpiece for residents of Washougal and Camas to enjoy each day. The Port is proud to say that all of this could not have happened without our hardworking staff, community and close partnerships. By joining together, we have created an ideal space for all to enjoy.
For more on this project, please visit www.WashougalWaterfront.com.