Clackamette Park Boat Ramp closes for foreseeable future
In December, Oregon City announced the permanent closure of the city's Clackamette Park Boat Ramp to motorized vehicles and boat trailers due to safety concerns.
A temporary closure was in effect since October, but city officials have determined that this closure will be permanent until potential realignment and possible relocation can be identified through another public process.
An underwater inspection in October showed a deficit in material key to the structural integrity of the boat ramp. City officials aim to reduce the potential for property damage and injury to the public by closing the ramp to vehicles.
"Public safety is the main factor in this decision," city parks and recreation director Kendall Reid said. "It is unsafe for vehicle use due to the river current eroding material underneath the concrete slabs of the ramp's foundation."
Clackamette Park's boat ramp remained open to foot and carry-down traffic — such as kayaks, canoes and paddleboards — but officials warned that further erosion may cause unsafe conditions for these uses.
Located near the confluence of the Willamette and Clackamas rivers, this isn't the first time the Clackamette Park ramp has closed, spurring on a public process to potentially relocate the ramp. In December 2013, a winter flood severely damaged the boat ramp at Clackamette Park by lifting up its concrete panels.
Oregon City was able to shore up, salvage and stabilize the ramp panels and prevent more undermining. In 2016, a short-term repair was made to the boat ramp to allow boating access for an estimated five years while the city finalized the design of a new ramp. City officials estimated that it would cost more than $1 million to relocate the boat ramp, and funding sources have not been secured by the city.
In 2016, Oregon's Marine Board approved $15,000 in state boater funds, combined with $45,000 in federal Sport Fish Restoration funds, for a total of $60,000 to design the new ramp. City officials hired West Consultants to analyze the hydrologic conditions around the ramp. The consultant recommended relocating the boat ramp downriver from the existing ramp on the Clackamas River, but this location created concerns about impacting the park with new roads to allow vehicles to approach this potential new ramp. At a joint Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and City Commission meeting on Oct. 8, 2019, the future of the Clackamette Park Boat ramp was discussed, and members rejected all four of the proposed plans.
Commissioner Rocky Smith was among the members of City Commission who were frustrated with the options presented.
"What bothers me is the last time we had this conversation was 2015-16, where we very clearly said all of these plans suck, and we're looking at the same plans (now)," Smith said.
While the boat ramp is closed at Clackamette Park, visitors to the area are encouraged to use other nearby facilities, such as Sportcraft Landing in Oregon City, Meldrum Bar in Gladstone, Cedaroak in West Linn or Jefferson Street in Milwaukie. Additional locations upstream of Willamette Falls in the Newberg Pool include Bernert Landing, Hebb Park and Boones Ferry boat ramps.
In 2022, Oregon City officials hope to begin the process for creating new Clackamette Park master plan to provide the public and community partners the opportunity to guide the park's functionality, sustainability and improvements, as well as identify plans for the boat ramps potential realignment and possible relocation.
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