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Open house seeks input on St. Helens waterfront designs

Residents map out ideas, give feedback on proposed framework


SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Lauren Wiritis, a consultant with Maul Foster Alongi, works with Herb Olson of St. Helens and Anjeanette Russell of Warren to sketch original ideas for the waterfront property. People were encouraged to draw on the map and give feedback at a table set up in the front of the room.A crowd of more than 100 people gathered Wednesday, April 27, to participate in planning the St. Helens waterfront redevelopment.

During the “What’s Your Waterfront?” open house, a short presentation was given to update attendees on the waterfront redevelopment process and recap what the Waterfront Redevelopment Project advisory committee has been working on since late 2015.

Design consultants from the city-contracted firm Maul Foster Alongi also presented three framework plans that incorporated committee suggestions and illustrated potential designs.

The three options outlined possible extensions of existing roads by historic downtown and the construction of a walking trail along the water.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Crowds of people examine design boards during a 'What's Your Waterfront' open house, Wednesday, April 28. People wrote ideas on sticky notes and posted them to the boards.“It’s about complementing downtown, not competing with it,” Ken Pirie, a senior associate and planner with design firm Walker Macy, said to the crowd.

Pirie explained that framework plans are used to determine what design elements people want to see in a master plan for the area.

St. Helens residents Nancy and Mike Herron said they enjoyed the presentation and liked the emphasis on public access — something each plan took into account, Nancy Herron said.

After the presentation, the three framework plan designs were hung around the room on large poster boards. Attendees were asked to write comments, and suggestions on sticky notes and tack them to each design.

A fourth blank map was set up in the front of the room for individuals to sketch their own framework plans. Some residents like Herb Olson of St. Helens liked the idea of building more docking and amenities for boaters. Others, like Anjeanette Russell, a Warren resident, suggested an emphasis on information centers and recreational opportunities.

Groups of people gathered in front of each map to brainstorm with one another.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Rick Scholl, a St. Helens resident, and Don Parrett, a Columbia City resident, discuss how the waterfront could be used to attract people all year long. “This is waterfront property that is valuable,” Rick Scholl, a St. Helens resident, explained while chatting with a friend about the possibility of building a ferry service in the area.

Around the room, sticky notes on the boards suggested more uses for the space, including marinas, access to a small beach area, bike paths, educational facilities and entertainment venues.

The waterfront redevelopment committee plans to meet again to account for the feedback and is expected to hold another open house this summer.