KGW reports: In Mayor Ted Wheeler’s proposed city budget released this week, there’s an interesting $158,000 line item in the park bureau budget: Build a swimming beach under the west side of the Marquam Bridge. The idea is to get more people access to the water on warm days.
The city says the river is safe, just don’t drink the water. To get people to love the Willamette again, and not just view it as industrial, Mayor Ted Wheeler has talked about turning Poetry Beach, into an actual beach for months.
The site is along the river trail and already has a walking path down to the water for a small boat ramp. Under this winter’s high water level, there is a sandy beach down there. The mayor is proposing adding a lane line out in the water to mark off safe swimming, bathrooms, maybe a lifeguard, park ranger safety patrols, picnic tables and possibly even inviting a food cart to set up nearby.
Ella Jackson agreed saying, “This would be a good way to get out and not travel three hours to get to a beach, it’s smart.”
“Getting people to challenge the notion that the river is just a thing to drive over and inviting people to get back into it and reconnect with the Willamette is the goal,” said Wheeler’s senior policy advisor Nathan Howard. “I would say a $158,000 is not ‘nothing’ but it is a small portion of the city budget and really it is a very worthwhile investment to tell the story of the renaissance of the Willamette and all of our public investment has created something we can all experience and is much healthier than it was a couple decades ago.”
If it’s approved in the final city budget at the end of May, Poetry Beach would be fixed up and ready to open as a swimming beach in July through September this year. If this pilot beach goes well, there are plans to invest in the Eastbank Crescent Park on the east side of the river near the Hawthorne Bridge. A floating dock is already very popular with sunbathers and kayakers, but it would be torn out and replaced with multiple docks for swimming and boating, and a sandy beach with picnic tables and restrooms would be built.