Washougal on the right trail

Port of C-W kicks off construction of waterfront park

By Aaron Corvin, July 9, 2015, The Columbian

The Port of Camas-Washougal on Wednesday kicked off construction of a $2.6 million waterfront park and trail with a groundbreaking ceremony attended by at least 60 people, including local and state elected officials.


“This has been a long time coming,” said David Ripp, executive director of the port, who presided during the gathering at the corner of South A and Second streets in Washougal, the former site of a lumber mill.


The late-morning ceremony, featuring a tent, balloons and renderings of the Washougal Waterfront Park to come, included remarks from others who’ve supported the port’s effort, which dates to 2010, to rejuvenate the property.


Tapani Underground of Battle Ground is expected to begin construction of the 5.73-acre park and 0.7-mile trail in August. The work is expected to wrap up by next spring.


The park and trail improvements are part of a larger, longer-term redevelopment effort: to breathe new life into a 40-acre waterfront parcel that’s 1.5 miles west of Washougal’s downtown and bounded by Highway 14 and the Columbia River.


The port owns about 67 percent of the overall site, while Killian Pacific, the Vancouver-based commercial real estate developer, owns 33 percent of it through its affiliate, Parkers Landing LLC. Together, the port and Killian Pacific hope to transform the entire 40 acres into a focal point where people live, work and play.


The port and Killian Pacific aren’t alone in their goal to transform a waterfront site in Clark County that once included an industrial operation. In Vancouver, for example, Tualatin, Ore.-based Gramor Development plans to conduct a $1.3 billion commercial-residential redevelopment of a 32-acre waterfront parcel where Boise Cascade once operated a paper mill.


Likewise, the Port of Vancouver seeks to reinvigorate its 13-acre Terminal 1 waterfront property with potential commercial, retail and public uses at the site between Columbia and Esther streets.


For the Port of Camas-Washougal, Wednesday’s ceremony marked a milestone after several years of work that began in 2010. That’s when port commissioners launched a strategic plan that included a goal of developing a more economically viable and publicly accessible Columbia River waterfront.


That same year, Ripp said, the Hambleton Lumber Co. mill closed and 50 jobs went away. In 2012, the port purchased a portion of the former mill parcel. Two years later, an environmental cleanup of the site, approved by the state Department of Ecology, was completed. Along the way, the port took public input and held workshops to develop design concepts for the waterfront site.


The park-and-trail groundbreaking ceremony marked a shift from planning and ideas to moving dirt. And more development is in the offing. Lance Killian, president of Killian Pacific, who spoke Wednesday, said he sees the park-and-trail project as a “kick-starter” for what will happen with the rest of the property.


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