Frequently Asked Questions About Waterfront Park
Q: Why is this project happening now?
A: We must begin work now to be prepared to take advantage of future development opportunities. Not only is this project a vital component to the Portland-Vancouver regional trail system, it is also important infrastructure to encourage private development of office and retail space, which in turn creates jobs for the region.
This project is the start of a long-term investment in the social and economic future of Vancouver, Clark County and the region. This public-private partnership will stimulate continued growth and revitalization of our downtown and truly make the riverfront part of our downtown core.
Q: Where exactly will the park be?
A: The Vancouver Waterfront Park will be located on the northern shore of the Columbia River, between the I-5 bridge and the railroad bridge. Access will be provided from Esther and Grant streets and from Columbia Way. The existing Waterfront Renaissance Trail along the river will be extended through the new waterfront park as well.
Q: How will the City pay for it?
A: Design and permitting of the park was paid for by a combination of impact fees dedicated to park development and grants from the Washington State Department of Commerce and the Washington State Department of Transportation.
The private developer, Columbia Waterfront LLC, has allocated acreage for the park and will contribute $3 million for construction as part of its plan to develop residences and businesses on the site.
Construction of the Vancouver Waterfront Park is anticipated to cost $17-$20 million. To build a quality amenity to the standards desired by the community will take time and numerous funding sources. The City is seeking a variety of state and federal grants to move ahead. Construction will be done in a strategic and phased process with each phase financed on a pay-as-you-go system through grants and donations.
Q: Don’t railroad tracks block public access to the site?
A: Not anymore. In 2013-14, the City of Vancouver partnered with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), the Port of Vancouver, Columbia Waterfront LLC and the Washington State Department of Transportation to extend both Grant and Esther streets beneath existing railroad tracks. These streets, in addition to an extension of Columbia Way through the property that will be completed in 2015, will provide primary public access to the park and future residential, commercial and retail developments.
Q: When will we have access to the Vancouver Waterfront Park?
A: The park is currently scheduled to be open to the public in 2017. Construction of the first phase will begin in summer 2016, with preliminary site preparation work starting in March 2016. This phase will include constructing the structural park foundation, river bank stabilization, clearing the site of old asphalt and concrete, building the multi-use trail, adding basic park amenities and and grading and seeding the lawn areas.
Q: How did the City design the park?
A: During 2008 and 2009, the City and the private developer conducted community outreach and convened a Community Resource Team of local citizens and stakeholders to develop a master plan for the park. That master plan incorporated a range of principles and ideas that will help guide development.
Q: Is there evidence waterfront parks generate private investment?
A: Parks provide intrinsic environmental, aesthetic and recreation benefits to our cities. They are also a source of positive economic benefits. They enhance property values, increase municipal revenue, bring in homebuyers and workers, and attract retirees.
At the bottom line, parks are a good financial investment for a community. Understanding the economic impacts of parks can help decision makers better evaluate the creation and maintenance of urban parks.
Read more about impacts a waterfront park development can have on a community: