Vancouver OKs plan for waterfront park

7.3-acre site would play key role in area’s redevelopment

By Erik Hidle, Columbian staff writer

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Vancouver city councilors unanimously approved a plan Monday to move forward with development of a waterfront park that the city hopes will one day anchor a new multiuse development area along the Columbia River.

Jeanne Harris, whose successor will be chosen by voters in Tuesday’s election, noted that one of her first actions on council was to back the revamping of Esther Short Park.

“And this will be one of my last,” said Harris, who did not advance out of the primary.

Harris was in agreement with fellow councilors that the park could become a desirable location that might draw in future business and residential development. Further, she said, it will be a boon for the community.

“It creates a gathering place for us,” she said. “This is an important legacy for Vancouver.”

The park plan is part of a larger vision to improve Vancouver’s waterfront area along the Columbia River. In 2012, the city began work on a $45 million Columbia River waterfront access project that punched its way through the BNSF Railway berm in two spots south of City Hall.

As planned, the park would be 7.3 acres and include a 14-foot-wide paved extension of the Waterfront Renaissance Trail; new performance spaces, community gathering spaces and a “festival lawn.” Also planned are a multipurpose, programmable plaza; overlooks and seating with river views; an artificial beach; a fishing pier; an improved, stabilized shoreline; and public art and interpretive signs that describe the history of the Columbia River.

The city has yet to sign contracts on the project, and city officials have said the park’s construction likely won’t begin until 2015.

The approval of the plan also authorizes a series of development permits, and while several of those allow 20 years for development, City Manager Eric Holmes said the city’s intent “is to move as swiftly as possible” as it will be “vigorously pursuing a variety of funding sources.”

For more information on the city’s continued waterfront development, visit this city website.