Milwaukie’s longstanding goal to revitalize Riverfront Park is moving forward despite a funding shortfall and ongoing negotiations with Clackamas County over property needed for the project.

by: RENDERING COURTESY: CITY OF MILWAUKIE - The completed Riverfront Park design includes new parking areas north and south of Kellogg Creek, a play area for children and an amphitheater for performances.Riverfront Park today contains a dilapidated boat launch, parking area and small restroom, and much of the site is unusable to non-boaters. David Evans and Associates developed a design for what will become the city’s “Living Room,” which was approved by Milwaukie’s Design and Landmarks Committee and Planning Commission in 2010.

There will be toy hardhats and shovels for kids to help kick off Phase II — a $2.2 million project that faltered after the resignation of project director JoAnn Herrigel last year. As part of the upcoming First Friday festivities, officials now plan to celebrate construction of a new boat ramp, a public lawn for festivals and gatherings, a riverside path and other enhancements to establish the park as a regionwide attraction.

David Evans and Associates estimated that the project would cost $2.4 million, but the city received seven bids from contractors saying that the project would cost hundreds of thousands more. To avoid delaying the project until next summer, City Council last month unanimously accepted the $2.76 million bid from Colf Construction, which still left a $500,000 budget shortfall. City staffers then recommended cutting pedestrian bridges, pathway lighting and ornamental hand railings to save about $200,000, but a significant shortfall remains.

So now Milwaukie officials are looking for more help from major backers, including the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Kellogg Good Neighbor Fund, which each contributed $1 million last year to the project. After contributing $200,000 already, Oregon Marine Board staff are willing to go back to request additional funds, but also expressed the opinion that contribution of additional funds is not likely “because they had recently accomplished larger projects with less money.”

Mayor Jeremy Ferguson said he doesn’t have a solid plan or figure for completing the project at this time. Clackamas County could reimburse a $63,200 access easement that Milwaukie purchased for this project.

“I’ve heard from the county that they may be willing to help towards the park, but it may not be a direct refund or forgiveness of the easement payment, which is fine. We are looking for (any) assistance in closing the gap for what will be a regional asset,” Ferguson said.

Dig with dignitaries to celebrate the groundbreaking of Riverfront Park’s second construction phase, near the Jefferson Street Boat Ramp, at 4 p.m. Friday, June 6.

Come and enjoy milk and cookies from the Painted Lady Cafe, listen to a barbershop quartet, and hear from U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, state Rep. Carolyn Tomei (D-Milwaukie), and other dignitaries as part of the celebration of this new chapter in the city’s history.

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