As part of our coverage of the on-going neighborhood effort to see our vision for the creation of Chinook Park fulfilled, the following is an update from the Clark County Parks Department. It looks like there are a number of big changes in the near future. Make sure you join us for a parks conversation with the new senior staff at the January 28 neighborhood meeting.
With the start of 2014, Clark County has dissolved its 17-year parks partnership with the City of Vancouver and expanded its own parks program.
This will be a seamless transition to the general public. Parks will remain open the same hours and provide the same amenities. County workers will continue to provide the same level of maintenance.
Clark County Parks will remain part of Clark County Public Works. As part of expansion and reorganization, the county has added four positions: a parks manager, two program coordinators and an office assistant.
The new parks manager is Bill Bjerke, the county’s longtime parks maintenance superintendent. The two program coordinators, Eric Christensen and Jeremy Kanooth, both previously worked for Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation and will continue doing much of the same work as county employees. Eric is Parks Facilities Coordinator and Jeremy is Parks Resource Management Coordinator.
Having people familiar with parks should make the transition smoother and more seamless to the public.
Beginning April 1, Clark County Parks will have a new phone number. Until then, county residents can call (360) 397-2446 to report a maintenance issue or to reach parks employees.
In 2013, the Board of County Commissioners eliminated parking fees at larger regional parks and boat launches. The county will continue to collect fees for reserving picnic shelters, scheduling sports fields and obtaining special use permits for weddings, regattas and other large events.
Clark County Parks is in the process of developing an online system so park users can make reservations electronically using credit cards. However, this system will take time to set up, and the county wants to be sure it will function correctly, both for the public and the county, before it is ready for use.
During the interim, the county will begin taking shelter reservations at 7 a.m. Monday, March 3, 2014, at the Public Works Operation Center, 4700 N.E. 78th St. in Hazel Dell. The center will open its doors at 5:30 a.m. on March 3.
Shelter reservations will not be accepted until that date. Park users who want to schedule sports fields or obtain special use permits can contact Eric Christensen at (360) 397-6118 ext. 1680 or Eric.Christensen@clark.wa.gov.
After a three-year hiatus brought about by a wobbly economy, Clark County will resume building parks in 2014.
In February 2005, voters in the urban unincorporated area outside the City of Vancouver created the Greater Clark Parks District and authorized an ongoing property tax levy, primarily to pay for maintenance of new parks, sports fields and trails.
The county built 25 of the district’s 35 parks. Construction was halted in 2011 because of the economic downturn, which left eight neighborhood parks and two community parks unbuilt.
The county plans to build two neighborhood parks, Chinook and Dogwood, in 2014. The county will bundle these two parks together into a single bid to save money. Construction would begin late spring or early summer, depending on weather, and wrap up in early fall.
Clark County worked extensively with local residents to develop a concept plan for Chinook Neighborhood Park, which the Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission approved in April 2011.
The 5.4-acre park will include play equipment (swings, slides and spinners), walking trails, picnic tables, benches and an unirrigated open lawn area. The project was designed with a natural theme that preserves the area’s existing vegetation and character.
Background information on Chinook Neighborhood Park is available at: www.clarkparks.org/projects/chinook.htm.
Clark County plans to build three more neighborhood parks in 2015 followed by the final three in 2016. The two remaining community parks, Curtin Creek and Pleasant Valley, will be developed after the eight neighborhood parks are finished.
Keeping the public informed
Clark County Parks is planning extensive outreach to inform the public of these changes. Parks has worked with CVTV on an informational program that will begin airing on Sunday Jan. 19.
In addition, the county has new parks web content at: www.clark.wa.gov/parks. The county expects to incrementally add web content as the expanded parks program takes shape.
Clark County Parks also will provide targeted outreach to park users. The county has more than 1,000 email addresses from people who have rented shelters during the past three years and will send information directly to those users informing them of changes in reserving shelters.
Finally, Clark County always is looking to involve volunteers in parks. Contact Karen Llewellyn, Volunteer Program Coordinator, at (360) 397-6118 ext. 1627 or Karen.Llewellyn@clark.wa.gov.