The City of Camas received a conceptual plan for a senior living facility to be constructed on public open space property located on Everett Street, south of Lake Road. The plans for this project included provisions for trails and parking spaces for use by the public, as well as providing emergency and maintenance access to the dam and creek. The City is always looking to better its parks program and with a sale of the property, there was a potential to leverage the funds received to obtain a grant in excess of the value of the potential sale proceeds.
With these ideas in mind, the City felt the idea was worth reviewing. There were multiple hurdles that would need to be crossed if the City did decide to go forward with a sale. The City first needed to alert the State that the zoning and comprehensive plan designation might be changed for this property. City staff planned to discuss the possibility to surplus and rezone the property at several public meetings and public hearings, the first being at the Parks and Recreation Commission on Wednesday, October 25th at 5:00 pm and culminating in a series of workshops and public hearings, which would have to be held before the Planning Commission and the City Council. The onset of these discussions did not commit the City to sell the property to anyone. In addition, there remained multiple elements which would be negotiated only in the event the property was deemed surplus and in the best interests of the City.
After a discussion with City Council at a workshop on October 16th and the subsequent article in the Camas-Washougal Post Record on October 19th, numerous emails and Facebook messages were received indicating that our community treasures our open spaces and would not support selling the property.
The City is sensitive to the will of its citizens. While the City believes there was merit in having a public discussion about this proposal and vetting it through the many steps outlined above, City staff have received enough feedback and understand how the community feels about the project and will immediately stop the consideration process of the proposal.
The property will remain as open space in public ownership.
A number of the comments we received insinuated that something improper had occurred in the submission of this proposal from an assisted living group that Tim Hazen is affiliated with. Council members are subject to specific limitations outlined in the Code of Ethics laws of the State of Washington. Council members are also citizens and are not denied an opportunity available to all other citizens to acquire and maintain private economic interests. As noted, the planned process would follow all of the required steps with numerous opportunities for the public to comment before a final decision was rendered by City Council. Mr. Hazen further resigned at the start of the process according to both the regulations under the Code of Ethics laws of the State of Washington and general ethical practices, to avoid any hint of impropriety.
Mr. Hazen was an excellent City Councilor and served his constituents in an exemplary manner. Please thank Mr. Hazen for his service to the community. I hope that he will still be willing to serve as a volunteer and leader in our community.