City of Battle Ground staff produced this video to illustrate some of the city’s features as they seek to re-shape their future. Video courtesy City of Battle Ground
The Core Visioning project aims to set Battle Ground’s direction for the next several decades
BATTLE GROUND — The city of Battle Ground is pulling over to ask for directions.
“We’ve had demographics change, we’ve had people moving in from different areas,” says Battle Ground Mayor Mike Dalesandro. “We’ve kind of gone through, coming out of the recession, this new growth spurt. And we haven’t taken a look — haven’t really sat down and talked about what we are. I think the last time the city did anything similar to this was around 2002 or 2001.”
The city of Battle Ground officially lists almost 21,000 residents, but the geographical area around the city’s borders actually contains nearly 80,000 people. “Battle Ground is a service center, and 80,000 people call it home, even though 21,000 people live within its borders,” says Dalesandro, “So I think that’s a unique element to this as well.”
“This” is a visioning project designed to guide Battle Ground’s growth in the decades to come. The Core Visioning Project, led by a group of local citizens and business leaders known as The Navigators, seeks to figure out which direction the city should seek to move in.
“This is an opportunity to really make a historical impact on your community, really, for generations,” says Dalesandro.
The Navigators, which are led by a consulting group hired by the city, have come up with four ideas for where Battle Ground could be headed:
Town & Country — An authentic and unique community supported by a diverse economy that offers a full range of in-town services and amenities serving north county, featuring a traditional downtown district with shops and cafes – all maintaining a commitment to Battle Ground’s rural, small town heritage and history.
Family Friendly Enclave — Be the go-to place in the region, attracting young families, offering an assortment of affordable to executive housing, top-notch schools, superior parks and recreational amenities, gathering places, and multi-use trails providing activities for all ages.
Gateway to the Outdoors — The launch pad for outdoor activities through interconnected recreational amenities highlighting the area’s natural resources and wetland features. Reflecting this identity, the community will have a growing recreation sector with adventure and agritourism, new businesses based on recreational products, and outdoor educational programs.
Future Forward — A job-generating innovation center with a robust and pace-setting construction industry and trades joined by an infusion of tech startups, cutting edge schools, “green” businesses and products, and a cool, artisanal factor added by new wines, brews, specialty products and local arts and entertainment “crafted in Battle Ground.”
The four options, says Dalesandro, are more about getting a conversation started. “I don’t think it’s limited to just these four as they’re written,” he says. “I think that there’s aspects in all of them that could be combined into one.”
The Navigators are currently seeking input online and in person about what people think of each of those options. Dalesandro says there will also be a heavy push at National Night Out on August 7 to get feedback from the community.
“I was out and about for Harvest Days and Cruise In, and had some conversations,” says Dalesandro. “It’s definitely a lot more positive. When you’re talking to somebody in the community it’s like ‘oh, well I have an opinion about that’. Well great, then fill out the survey and be part of this.”
The process Battle Ground is undertaking is similar to the process Camas went through years ago as they sought to move on from a city heavily dependent on its paper mill, to one with a diversified workforce, great parks, and a heavy emphasis on local businesses in their downtown area. Dalesandro says there haven’t been any direct discussions with the people in Camas who helped guide that process, but what he’ll be curious to hear is how they were able to stay the course. “Because that could potentially be a challenge for us,” he says. “Because councils change.”
Right now, the Battle Ground City Council is involved in the Core Visioning process only through approving the funding to hire a consulting firm, and in helping to get the word out. The Navigators are expected to come up with a final proposal by sometime in November. Dalesandro says that’s important, because it could help guide some big decisions the council has coming up.
“We’re going to be diving into, towards the end of this year, a transportation plan update,” Dalesandro says. “A land use update, which I think is probably going to be the biggest potential impact from the visioning, because I think, depending on what comes out of that, this will set us up for the next comprehensive plan update with the county, so we kind of get ahead of the game there.”
Where new growth in Battle Ground would go is still an open question. With the expansion of SR-502 completed between downtown and I-5, it’s likely the largest amount would happen west of the Main Street area. For sale signs have already begun to pop up on rural properties along that stretch.
The council, as it exists now, will be together through next year. Dalesandro says that’s a good chance for them to set expectations, and even policy, that could help steer the city’s growth towards whatever the citizens decide they want to be.
“When it comes to actual policy, yes councils can change things,” Dalesandro says. “They don’t necessarily have to keep it the way it is … But we don’t want that to happen, and that’s the idea of us having the community engaged in this process. It’s not us saying ‘it’s going to be this, this, or this’. It’s them saying, ‘this is what we would like to see’. Because that’s going to create the buy-in and, I think, the sense of ownership.”
Battle Ground isn’t the only city seeking direction. Vancouver is in the midst of its Vancouver Strong process, which is seeking public feedback about which services should be prioritized, and how they should be funded. Vancouver is also about to be transformed by the grand opening of its $1.5 billion waterfront development, which is the central piece of their effort to revitalize Vancouver.
Ridgefield, with its explosive growth, is in the beginning stages of what will be a massive development project at their waterfront property owned by the Port. That, along with development at The Junction along I-5 is expected to majorly re-shape the way Ridgefield grows over the next several decades.
La Center is still in the infancy of their planned development east of I-5, along land bordering the Cowlitz Tribal lands where ilani Casino sits. Woodland is also seeking to rebuild itself as a destination for niche businesses, breweries, and restaurants.
It’s a sign of the explosive growth expected within Clark County over the coming decades, with well over 600,000 people expected to live here by the middle of the next decade.