$1 million from state paves the way for waterfront park

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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The city of Vancouver will have enough money to begin construction of its Waterfront Community Park on the former Boise Cascade waterfront area, thanks to $1 million lawmakers set aside in the state’s new capital budget.

The 8-acre park and additional public infrastructure will connect visitors to the city’s downtown area and to the Waterfront Renaissance Trail that runs east of the Interstate 5 Bridge. The Waterfront Community Park will be built on the southern portion of the 32-acre former industrial site and city officials say it will attract major private investments to the waterfront.

“This is a really smart move by the state because it offers a critical piece of public financing that will be leveraged to create hundreds of immediate local construction jobs,” Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt said in a statement about the new state money.

The $1 million in state money will cover most of the cost of the park and other public infrastructure. A previous state grant and city park impact fees are paying for the project’s design phase.

City officials expect to break ground on the park next year and have it completed by 2014, Vancouver Communications Manager Barbara Ayers said on Thursday.

The park and trail expansion is required in the city’s development agreement with Gramor Development of Tualatin, Ore., for development on the riverfront site. The 20-year, $1.2 billion project aims to bring at least 2,500 residences, 400,000 square feet of office space and 100,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

Ayers said the city was hoping for the money, but “in these tough budget times, you never know. Everybody has their fingers crossed.”

She said the project will be a nice asset to the Vancouver community as well as for visitors. Construction of the project will provide new jobs for the area, many of them offering wages higher than the Clark County average.

State lawmakers reached an agreement on a supplemental capital budget on Tuesday, before reaching a deal to close a $1.1 billion hole in the operating budget. Supporters of the $1 billion capital budget say the projects included in it will create roughly 18,000 jobs statewide.