In the last several months, there has been a lot of talk about significant water rate increases to occur in Washougal to start near the beginning of the year. The previous base rate of around $175 was supposed to move up to near $211, billed every two months. The City of Washougal, however, has managed keep that base rate down under $185 through two different measures. In the coming days, I will do a more in-depth report on how the city was able to lower rates, and what the potential outlook is for the coming years.
According to WSDOT, travelers on State Route 14 will have more space to stretch out when the Washington State Department of Transportation opens two more lanes in Camas and Washougal. starting last night, Friday, Feb. 8.
Traffic began flowing on the newly raised and widened section of SR 14 last October, but ongoing construction kept two of the highway’s four lanes closed through the winter.
“We couldn’t open the other lanes until we put all the guardrail in, but we couldn’t finish the guardrail until the bridge barrier was done,” said Chris Tams, WSDOT project engineer. “Now that everything’s tied together, we can safely open all the lanes to drivers.”
Drivers can expect intermittent, single-lane closures this spring. WSDOT plans to put a final layer of new asphalt over this entire section of roadway once the weather is warm and dry enough for paving.
This project elevated the highway 25 feet, added two lanes, eliminated two traffic signals and installed three miles of median barrier to prevent cross-over collisions along SR 14 between the Northwest Sixth Avenue interchange in Camas and Sixth Street in Washougal. Construction on the $49 million, gas tax-funded project began in June 2011.
Kevin and Alex are opening a new restaurant in downtown Washougal. I got a chance to ask them a few questions about the new venture. Here is what they had to say.
Why did you pick Washougal for your new restaurant?
While living in Portland, we started searching for the right neighborhood to open OurBar. We soon discovered that most neighborhoods already had an existing “OurBar” concept (cozy hangout with homemade food & local beer) or were years away from the community development needed to sustain small businesses. Washougal is an emerging community with great local energy and support from Lone Wolf (a prominent Washougal developer). We love the gorge lifestyle, and close proximity to Portland as well.
What type of food are you looking to offer?
Craveable comfort food made from scratch. Think: Grandma’s recipes, updated. We want the food to be rich and delicious but portioned just right to keep the price point low and people coming back for more. We will serve select beer and wine to compliment the food and flavors of the region. We also will be bringing a comprehensive coffee program to downtown.
What type of customer are you looking to attract?
Our main goal is to provide an accessible, tasty hangout for Washougal residents. The seating will be varied, featuring a large communal table, intimate bar seats, coffee counter facing Main Street and small tables built for two. We hope to provide a comfortable dining experience for all service periods; business meetings at the communal table, coffee and newspaper at the window, intimate lunch with a friend or beer and a chat at the bar. In the sunny months, OurBar will be a destination for eco-tourists, hikers, river lovers and curious culinarians from the Portland / Vancouver area.
What are your backgrounds and what motivated you both to start this restaurant?
Kevin started his career in the kitchen, and is a self-taught cook establishing himself as a leader in kitchen management and operations over the past 10 years. In addition to his love of food and food service, Kevin has spent years behind cafe counters and bars serving up his own brand of relaxed hospitality. Kevin moved to Portland, OR in 2003 and found himself immediately immersed in the world of beer. He is an avid beverage historian and believes in continuing the storytelling tradition of beer’s rich evolution and the community it creates; and while beer culture stands front and center for Kevin, his own quest for delicious coffee has developed into a wonderful passion all its own.
Alex’s life has been devoted to food from the moment she ate her first strawberry. Growing up in Seattle, she had local access to a flourishing food community. Her Sunday mornings traditionally spent at Pike Place Market, eating tiny doughnuts and people-watching. Alex is a graduate of Oregon Culinary Institute and has worked in kitchens from Portland to Boulder and San Francisco. Alex is a cookbook connoisseur, inspired by generations of exceptional chefs before her. She invests a depth of flavor into her food while still respecting the beauty of simplicity. Alex cooks with precision, joy and generosity.
We both take great pride in our ability to provide excellent service, friendly and informative. We create food that tells a story, this shared passion is what brought the two of us together and has led us to OurBar.
Why Our Bar?
The name OurBar came from conversations about meals and beers we have shared over the years. Every time we went out to a new restaurant or bar we would have a critique session after, saying “I loved how they did this or that but when we open our bar we should do it this way”. We continued our research and critique for three years and before we knew it, OurBar had hatched. We chose the wishbone logo to evoke shared food memories, like the tradition of breaking the wishbone after a satisfying meal.
We want customers to feel a connection to OurBar. We feel the name conveys a sense of familiarity.
Is it just you two or are there others involved?
There are many people that make up our support group: friends, family and restaurant industry veterans, but OurBar will be run by the two of us. A mutual friend will be coming down from Seattle (where he is an accomplished chef and natural green thumb) to help advise us on converting our front yard into an urban farm. We plan to grow cut flowers, fruit, veggies and herbs for the restaurant.
When are you looking to open?
Construction started this month and we are hoping to be open to the public by late March, early April.
Where exactly is it going to be located?
Downtown Washougal! On the corner of 19th and Main (1887 Main Street, Suite E).
What hours will you be open?
We will be closed Mondays, open Tues – Sun for breakfast from 7am to 11am and lunch 11am to 3pm. Fri – Sun happy hour 3pm – 6pm. This summer, we will open for dinner Thurs – Sun.
Can you share some of the dishes you are looking to offer?
Biscuits & gravy, clam chowder, French onion soup, pork chile verde, breakfast bars (granola goodness without the wrapper), happy hour burger, house-made pastas, breads and baked goods, braised short ribs (for the colder months) and fresh seafood as it becomes available. All the food we love to eat.
We hope to partner with local farmers, allowing us to change the menu frequently while representing the region in its culinary abundance. (We also love string cheese and are determined to figure out how to make our own.)
What will be the general cost of your food?
Breakfast & lunch items vary between $2 for a pastry or savory baked goodie to about $10 for an entree.
Where do you both live?
We relocated from Portland to Washougal in December to immerse ourselves in the gorge life and get to know our neighbors and future customers.
I got a chance to speak with David Ripp over at the Port of Camas and Washougal about what is happening with the old Hambleton lumber, which is now a large open lot and waiting to be developed. He said, ”during the clean-up of the site and after, the Port will be working on grant applications to construct a water front trail along the shoreline of the site”.
Below is a statement for advertisement for the Request for Qualifications the Port of Camas and Washougal is advertising currently for the site.
The Port of Camas-Washougal has recently purchased 13.25 acres of a 25 acre former mill property that closed back in 2010. The port conducted an environmental due diligence in early 2012 to determine potential contamination of the site from the 60 year operation of the lumber mill. In order to move forward with waterfront development of this site, contamination that was discovered during the environmental due diligence needs to be remedied. Those interested may request a copy of the due diligence information.
The work to be performed by the consultant will likely include the following elements:
· Working with the Port and the Department of Ecology to conduct a formal cleanup of the Site using agreed orders (if necessary) and a consent decree
· Supporting the Port in its Local Toxics Account grant application
· Developing necessary documents and reports for Ecology and to bid the construction of the remedy
· Monitoring the installation of the remedy
· Conducting any post-construction or long term monitoring
In the last week we have had a major amount of snow fall in the mountains surrounding The Gorge with reports of over 5 feet in places, so when they say we are to expect to see the strongest storm of the year, starting by the end of the weekend, it gives me pause, and a bit of a reminder that winter is indeed here. Here is more information about whatto expect.
Despite being told by the City of Washougal that there would be no meeting on December 17th, 2012 to discuss water rate increases, more then 70 people attended to speak with City Council members, in what they called a town hall meeting, and not a technically a Council meeting. From what I am told today speaking with the City of Washougal, it appears there was some miscommunication, and initially the December 17th meeting was cancelled, but word got out that people were expecting to attend and were not aware it had been cancelled, and so the they held a special meeting for attending resident.
As I reported on December 7th, Washougal water rates are due to more then double over a 5 year period, from 2010 to 2015, with the new base rate of 211.13 starting beginning January 1st 2013. Here is a bit more information about the City Hall meeting reported by the Post Record…
Sorry to anyone who did not attend due to miss information I was provided by the City of Washougal. It pains me, as I was really looking forward to better understanding the issues and voicing my concerns, along with asking several questions. I know for myself, I will be attending the next city council meeting on January 7th, 2013, at 6pm, and I hope anyone who did not attend on December 17th, will join me. I can confirm with talking with the city today, that there will be available time for people to attend, ask questions, and voice concerns.
I showed up late to the event, and initially did not understanding why people weren’t cheering or booing after each speaker, but I quickly learned that the rule was to wave your sign or hands in the air silently to show support or disapproval of the speakers. From my perspective, on the back wall, the attendance was mostly made up of No Coal supporters, subsequently most of the room was blanketed in red, as you can see from the photo I took from the event.
For what seemed like every 15, two minute time slop to speak, 13 or so would be No Coal supporters, and 2 would be Pro Coal supporters.
Unfortunately there was not enough time for everyone who wanted to speak, so numbers were selected, similar to a lottery. Though I am a No Coal supporter, I was actually hoping to hear from more of the Pro Coal supports, so I could gain a better understand the perspective.
The coals supporters along with wearing a green shirt that read “Let’s Get To Work”, they also had signs that read “Check The Facts”.
Can someone please share with me “These Facts”? At the event, in my opinion, they were not clearly outlined, though I would certainly like to learn more about them.
And when Pro Coal supports say ” let’s get back to work”!
Can someone share with me how many jobs COAL in the NW is going to create? This was also unclear.
I look forward to learning more…
Coal-export foes, including many bused in from Salem and Hood River, appeared to outnumber supporters at the last DEQ meeting, before considering whether to issue draft permits by the end of February.
Read more here -
After agreeing to purchase a portion of a former lumber mill site this week, the Port of Camas-Washougal is poised to play a significant role in transforming roughly 40 acres of waterfront property into a bustling hub for businesses and outdoor enthusiasts.
Link to Article:
I got a chance to speak with Kevin King, owner of Amnesia Brewery. Being a resident of Washougal, I was anxious to know when the new brewing facility and pub in Downtown Washougal was going to open? Though not certain on an exact date, “mid January 2013 is the target”, Kevin said. It was interesting to find out that because Washougal has different water than Portland, adjustments in the process are having to be made to insure a consistent product. It sounds like they will be canning their beer and selling it to go, as well. “Our brewing facility is state of the art and the pub will be able to seat 50-55 people”, Kevin said. If you are a fan of Amnesia brewing like I am, you know that the focus is on the beer and not food, but that is not to say the food isn’t good. It sounds like the Washougal pub is going to have a similar menu of sandwiches and other good pub food, similar to the Portland location.
Check out this video of the Construction.