Second open house for proposed Camas aquatic center met with mixed reactions

Presentation by city administrator met with frustration and support

CAMAS — City leaders in Camas were met with a full-house of residents at the second community open house for the proposed community aquatic center on Wednesday. 

Camas residents gather in Lacamas Lake Lodge for the second community open house regarding the proposed Camas aquatic center. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Camas residents gather in Lacamas Lake Lodge for the second community open house regarding the proposed Camas aquatic center. Photo by Jacob Granneman

The proposed $72 million facility would be paid for through the $78 million bond levy, which will also provide $6 million to upgrade existing sports fields. In recent weeks, the project has drawn criticism from many in the community for its projected impact on property taxes, traffic and operating costs. 

Posters featuring renderings of the proposed site and building design were placed through the room for open house attendees to evaluate. Comment cards were available at the back of the room. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Posters featuring renderings of the proposed site and building design were placed through the room for open house attendees to evaluate. Comment cards were available at the back of the room. Photo by Jacob Granneman

The Lacamas Lake Lodge served as the venue for the event, and not a chair was empty as City Administrator Pete Capell and a consultant from WSP explained the flow for the evening.

We will have a presentation, followed by answering several questions we have selected from the website, and then we will have time to answer your questions individually with members of staff, they said.

Capell’s presentation was mostly repeat information from previous open houses and public presentations. You can find more information about the proposition here. 

New information did come in the form of possible management and a growing opposition response to the project. Capell, towards the end of the presentation, mentioned several new pieces of information.

“We’ve had discussions with the YMCA, they potentially could operate the facility for with a limited subsidy,” Capell said. “We also have estimates from experts in the industry that indicated that it would be about $850,000 of subsidy if it was operated by Camas city staff. However, there are services in that program that overlap with what we’re currently doing in our recreation programs. So there would be about $400,000 of money that is already in the budget for Parks and Recreation. So the total would be about $450,000.”

Capell also explained that they chose not to complete the project in phases due to the observation that the first phase is built and “subsequent phases never happen.” 

“We considered phasing, the phase unit into multiple projects,” he said. “[But] there were so many things or elements in this project that are important to different segments of our community. So the council decided to include the entire project.”

WSP consultant Scott Keeler, and Camas City Administrator Pete Capell give opening remarks at the start of the second open house on Proposition 2. Photo by Jacob Granneman
WSP consultant Scott Keeler, and Camas City Administrator Pete Capell give opening remarks at the start of the second open house on Proposition 2. Photo by Jacob Granneman

As the presentation concluded, applause was quickly silenced by the voices of several in the crowd calling for a public forum, and answers to their questions. 

A small shouting match ensued, but was quickly dispersed throughout the room with city leaders and city staff. At one point, a Camas resident began speaking in opposition into the room microphone until city staff turned it off.   

Clark County Today spoke with several attendees on, and off camera, (see video above), and among the largest concerns were:

  • Opposition to higher property taxes
  • Concern for the facility’s operating cost
  • Lack of transparency with no open forum
  • Slow responses from city officials
  • Perceived lack of interest in other options

For more information on this ongoing story, visit camascommunityaquaticscenter.com and also read these stories:

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About The Author

Jacob Granneman is a filmmaker and writer from Clark County. He is a graduate of Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College, where he studied journalism and media production. He has produced documentary stories all over the Pacific Northwest and abroad in Argentina. His passions range from sharing the love of Jesus, to cinematography, to going on adventures in the most beautiful place on earth, i.e. his backyard. He lives with his wife in Vancouver, WA. Proverbs 16:3

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