The City of St. Helens is currently working on two riverfront projects to bring major infrastructure and public amenity improvements to the St. Helens waterfront.

The Future

Both projects are focused on infrastructure development on the former Boise veneer property. The property is a vacant 22-acre, half-mile long piece of property. It is bordered by the Columbia River to the east, Columbia View Park and the historic St. Helens Riverfront District to the north, Nob Hill Nature Park to the southwest, and Plymouth Street at its south end. The site is commonly referred to as the St. Helens waterfront property.

First steps

The City of St. Helens launched the Road and Utility Extension Project in March 2021. The project is focused on creating design documents, securing permits, and starting construction on road and utility extensions for South 1st and Strand Streets through the St. Helens waterfront property. Development is anticipated to include pedestrian and bicycle connections, streetscape design, on-street parking, and view corridors of the Columbia River.

Otak is the City’s consultant for the street extension project. The St. Helens City Council is holding a public form at 6 p.m. June 16.

Otak will present street alignment options for the continuation of South 1st Street and Strand Street. The meeting is open to the public and will be held electronically via Zoom and broadcast live on the City’s YouTube channel.

While the City’s last Riverfront meeting was intended to gather community input to help shape the design process, this meeting is for the city council to review and select one of the street extension alignment alternatives. An agenda with meeting details will be available on the City’s website at www.sthelensoregon.gov/meeting after June 11.

Public access

The city also launched the Riverwalk Project in March 2021 to design public access on the St. Helens waterfront property and a new stage for the Columbia View Park amphitheater. The riverwalk will extend along the banks of the Columbia River from Columbia View Park to Plymouth Street and Nob Hill Nature Park. The new linear park design may incorporate a combination of pathways, boardwalks, and overlooks.

The city held a public forum on Wednesday, May 19 to review the project’s scope and gather community feedback about the types of uses and themes that are important to incorporate in the project’s design. A community survey was also open for two weeks in May to gather feedback about the project.

The survey gathered 471 responses. A summary of the survey feedback was created by Mayer/Reed, Inc., the city’s consultant for the Riverwalk Project. The summary is available to view on the Riverwalk Project website at https://www.sthelensoregon.gov/waterfront/page/riverwalk-project.

The survey highlighted the importance of designing a space for the community to be able to walk, socialize, and view the landscape and wildlife along the riverwalk. Walking, views, wildlife viewing, and paddling were the activities that ranked highest in importance. The results from the survey will be used to help shape the design proposals for the riverwalk.

Mayer/Reed, Inc. will give a presentation to the St. Helens City Council of Riverwalk Project design alternatives at 1.p.m. during the council’s July 21 work session. The community is invited to watch the meeting electronically via Zoom or live on the city’s YouTube channel. An agenda with meeting details will be available on the City’s website at www.sthelensoregon.gov/meetings closer to the meeting date.

These projects are part of the city’s ongoing efforts to open a large expanse of riverfront property that was formerly private industrial land fenced off from community access. With the City’s purchase of the property in 2015, major planning and design work has taken place to reclaim the waterfront to serve the St. Helens community in new ways.

This redevelopment process aims to pay homage to both the past and future of the city by creating new amenities to attract new business and residents to St. Helens and provide guaranteed public access to a larger stretch of the Columbia River.

The city’s waterfront redevelopment project includes three main properties that total 225-acres of adjacent land: the St. Helens waterfront property (former Boise Veneer property) to the north; the central waterfront property (current site of the city’s wastewater treatment plant and directly south of the waterfront property); and the St. Helens Industrial Business Park (former Boise Mill property). Information about the redevelopment efforts can be found on the city’s website at www.sthelensoregon.gov/waterfront.

For more information contact Associate Planner and Community Development Project Manager Jenny Dimsho at jdimsho@sthelensoregon.gov.

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