Ridgefield to wed downtown, waterfront plans

City hopes to keep charm while spurring economic growth

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter

Published:

 

Comments on the Ridgefield downtown-waterfront integration project are still being accepted. Comment boxes and forms are available at:

o City Hall, 230 Pioneer St.

o Ridgefield Community Library, 210 N. Main Ave.

o Starliner Foodmart, 320 Pioneer St.

o Old Liberty Theatre Cafe, 113 N. Main Ave.

The comment boxes will be available until Monday.

E-mail project manager Karen Ciocia at kciocia@normandeau.com for an electronic version of the comment form. Ciocia can also be reached at 601-5360 for additional questions.

The next public hearing on the project is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. June 22 at the Ridgefield Community Center, 210 N. Main Ave.

The city of Ridgefield and the Port of Ridgefield are coming together to create a unified vision for downtown and the waterfront. And they’re turning to the community for help.

The idea behind the collaboration is to figure out a way to implement both entities’ plans — the city’s comprehensive and downtown plans; the port’s waterfront plan — so they leverage, rather than negatively impact, each other, City Manager Justin Clary said.

“From the city’s perspective, it’s viewed as a means of marrying the port’s plans of redevelopment of the waterfront … with the downtown and our plans to maintain the Main Street-Norman Rockwell feel with all of the growth,” he said.

The planning process is paid for by a $100,000 grant the city received from the state Department of Ecology in January.

Comments on the Ridgefield downtown-waterfront integration project are still being accepted. Comment boxes and forms are available at:

o City Hall, 230 Pioneer St.

o Ridgefield Community Library, 210 N. Main Ave.

o Starliner Foodmart, 320 Pioneer St.

o Old Liberty Theatre Cafe, 113 N. Main Ave.

The comment boxes will be available until Monday.

E-mail project manager Karen Ciocia at kciocia@normandeau.com for an electronic version of the comment form. Ciocia can also be reached at 601-5360 for additional questions.

The next public hearing on the project is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. June 22 at the Ridgefield Community Center, 210 N. Main Ave.

About 75 Ridgefield residents attended a recent community meeting to kick off the project and begin shaping the project’s action plan.

The group identified three focus areas of the project. One priority is maintaining the community feeling and character of Ridgefield while also expanding residents’ and visitors’ ability to walk and bike to different areas in town, including the waterfront, said project manager Karen Ciocia of Normandeau Associates in Vancouver.

Another area of focus is keeping the connection to the natural landscape, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and environment of Ridgefield, she said.

The third priority is economic development. Community members said they want more jobs that will support the Ridgefield area, provide services for people who live in the area and those who visit and are tied to recreational opportunities in the city. For example, more options for lodging and restaurants, as well as breweries and wineries, Ciocia said.

The idea, she said, is to “maintain the Ridgefield feel but develop enough businesses that there’s a reason for people to come and a reason for people to stick around.”

Those priorities align with the visions and goals of the comprehensive, downtown and waterfront plans.

The city plans strive to maintain the quaint, small-town feel of Ridgefield while also building a robust economy that provides employment opportunities for residents. The waterfront plan aims to provide public access spots and spaces for gatherings while also attracting industrial and retail businesses on the port’s Lake River property. The land is undergoing a major industrial cleanup after being contaminated by wood-treating chemicals used by the property’s former tenant.

Project consultants are beginning to review community feedback and form an action plan. The city and port will hold another community meeting in June to review the work so far, and a final gathering in October to present the completed action plan, Ciocia said. In the meantime, a group of stakeholders — which includes representatives from the city, port, planning commission and school district — will review city codes to ensure nothing on the books will slow down implementing the plan, she said.

Clary said he expects some of work to begin soon after the action plan is complete, while other projects will take several years.

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546 or marissa.harshman@columbian.com.