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City officials learned Wednesday the application for federal funds to improve the city's waterfront did not make the cut

COURTESY - A rendering of the proposed waterfront in St. Helens. The U.S. Department of Transportation has rejected an $11.1 million city of St. Helens' grant application to advance the St. Helens Waterfront Redevelopment Project.

St. Helens officials announced the bad news Thursday, Nov. 14, in a news release that they had failed to receive a 2019 Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, or BUILD, transportation discretionary grant for infrastructure improvements for the waterfront project.

The announcement timing surprised some city staff, including City Adminstrator John Walsh, who said just the day prior to receiving the news, on Wednesday, it might be a month or more before the city learned of the application's fate.

The city would have used the grant funds to extend The Strand Street and South 1st Street south, link the two streets to complete a loop on the waterfront property, and tie both new street extensions into Tualatin Street and South 2nd Street with a pedestrian path. 

The funding request also sought to develop about 1,500 feet of public boardwalk and trail access along the bank of the Columbia River.

Though the project was not funded, the city of St. Helens remains committed to the St. Helens Waterfront Redevelopment Project and increasing public access to a portion of the Columbia River, which was formerly a private industrial site, the news release said.

City officials will participate in a debrief with U.S. DOT representatives in January to receive feedback on their BUILD Grant application. As the Waterfront Redevelopment Project plans are refined and designs are improved, city staff and city councilors continue to work with local and regional partners to apply for additional state and federal funding for the project, the release stated.

In 2018, during which the city's effort to secure $15 million in discretionary federal grant funds for the waterfront project also failed, the U.S. DOT BUILD Grant program received 851 applications for funding from across the United States, and only 11% were successful. This year, 55 projects were awarded funding, only one of which was from Oregon.

To learn more about the St. Helens Waterfront Redevelopment Project, visit the City's website at https://www.ci.st-helens.or.us/planning/page/waterfront-redevelopment-project.


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