All Politics is Local

Parks parking fees could be on notice

You can probably expect free parking at county parks to be on the chopping block later this year, if Wednesday’s Clark County council work session was any indication.

The long and short of it is, the county’s levy-driven funding for parks is unsustainable. Without intervention, the county’s cash flow will be in the negative in less than a decade. You can visit the county website for more details.

One recommendation, among several Clark County Public Works is making, is to reinstate parking fees at the county’s parks. That controversial decision, which was Republican Councilor David Madore’s baby, was approved 2 to 1 in 2013 when he and Republican Tom Mielke voted to support it.

Both were absent from Wednesday’s work session, where the so-called “liberal trio” of Republicans Jeanne Stewart and Julie Olson, and Council Chair Marc Boldt, no party preference, heard about the challenges eliminating fees has created.

More riff-raff are causing trouble in county parks, Parks Manager Bill Bjerke said. Rates of vandalism are up. There’s more trash in parks. The county has had to hire Vancouver Police Department patrols to protect parks, frequently at a cost of $800 to $1,200 per patrol.

And all three showed interest in potentially reversing the 2013 decision.

“The parking fees, especially if we use them for ambassadors… Yes you’re paying a little bit, but you’re having a safe park,” Boldt said.

Kaitlin Gillespie

I'm the education reporter at The Columbian. Get in touch at kaitlin.gillespie@columbian.com or 360-735-4517.

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