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HESCOs removed from entrances, reopening Pacific Park

The exit at Pacific Park, as well as the entrance, are now open. - Shawn Skager/Reporter
The exit at Pacific Park, as well as the entrance, are now open.
— image credit: Shawn Skager/Reporter

Pacific Park reopened on April 28 after workers removed the flood barriers that had blocked the driveways of the popular recreation destination throughout the winter months.

"The driveways are open, and the park is ready for use," said Pacific Mayor Leanne Guier. "King County picked up the tab (about $40,000) on that (removing the HESCOs)."

The park is closed each year as a precaution against flooding of the White River.

In October, King County beefed up the HESCOs – rock-and-dirt-filled mesh containers – wall, adding a second row on the bottom and a row on top, which raised the barrier to eight feet high.

Initially, Guier said, the City hoped to have the top row of HESCOs removed from the entire frontage of the park during the spring and summer months.

"My biggest concern is drug activity taking place in the park," Guier said. "When we were doing spring cleanup, they were finding syringes in the HESCOs. That frightens me. You can still drive by and see inside the park, but it's not as open as it used to be. I just don't want it to be a trigger for anybody's misconduct.

"With the labor that it takes, it wasn't possible, though," she added. "(King County) didn't even give me an estimate, but we were probably looking at $70,000 just for the top row. Plus, King County really didn't want to remove the top row because it weakens the integrity of the wall and the base. It's just not cost effective."

With the HESCOs likely to be in place for the next five years, or until work is completed on flood-control levees on the east and west side of the White River, Guier said, the Pacific Police Department still has means to see inside the park and monitor potential criminal activity.

"On the east side of the park, where King County bought up some of the trailers, they left a driveway where an officer can pull up and view everything inside the park," she said.

In addition, the City has decided to keep the permanent restrooms closed. Instead, it has placed a pair of portable toilets – one handicap accessible – for use by park goers.

"With those bathrooms being closed, I feel it adds another level of safety," Guier said.

The closure of the oft-vandalized restrooms also saves the City money.

"It seemed like we were doing work out there everyday, painting doors, walls and unplugging the toilets," she said.

In fact, according to interim Public Works Director Ken Barnett, keeping the restrooms up – including cleaning, maintenance, repair, paper supplies and having a police officer lock the doors nightly – was $2,500 a month.

The portable toilets will cost the City just $400 a month, including cleaning and supplies.

Pacific Park, at 600 Third Ave. SE, is home to several City events each year, including Pacific Days and the Terry Home Show and Shine car show.

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