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Redevelopment planning for waterfront gets hands-on approach

Committee meetings scheduled for March, followed by public meetings scheduled for April


SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - One table group maps out a possible configuration of the St. Helens waterfront during the St. Helens Waterfront Redevelopment Committee meeting Wednesday, Feb. 10. Two table groups worked on creating several designs during the 45-minute exercise. While the physical results of waterfront redevelopment are still a somewhat distant goal in St. Helens, the St. Helens Waterfront Redevelopment Committee is discussing possibilities.

During a Waterfront Redevelopment Committee meeting Wednesday, Feb. 10, committee members, as well as all St. Helens city councilors and a few city residents, began the first stage of planning by working through an interactive mapping exercise.

Consultants from Maul Foster Alongi, an environmental consulting agency contracted by the city to lead redevelopment planning, walked the group through a 45-minute tactile exercise designed to get committee members talking about their visions for the waterfront.

Two tables were set up with large maps of the waterfront property and paper cutouts that represented different types of building structures, parks, roads, walking trails and possible recreation areas.

Committee members were tasked with discussing ideas about what types of civic buildings, roads, parks, houses, businesses, trails, and walkways could potentially be incorporated into the property. Each table was asked to design two or three options of how to effectively use the available property to design a usable waterfront.

Ultimately, market forces will determine when construction and development actually begins, said Seth Otto, a consultant with Maul Foster Alongi. Still, the goal of the exercise is to determine what stakeholders really want to see and what they value, he explained.

With a handful of layouts available, Otto and his team will be able to see what elements emerge as a priority among different people. For example, if all the designs have a plaza or park in one

location, it helps pinpoint what to keep in mind dur-

ing the planning process, he said.

The committee was also updated on the results of a Maul Foster Alongi study of existing conditions at the former Boise Inc. veneer property in late 2015. The study was funded through a grant from the

Environmental Protection Agency.

Additionally, City Administrator John Walsh and Otto also briefed the committee on the progress of a road study the Port of St. Helens conducted to determine the impact of creating a roadway from Highway 30 to the waterfront property.

The Waterfront Redevelopment Committee will hold another design review meeting in March before hosting an open house event in April for all St. Helens residents to attend. The dates and times of the meetings have not yet been determined.