City closes boat dock to public; walking access still allowed for nearby citizens

COURTESY PHOTO - On April 7, during the last evening Meldrum Bar Park was open to vehicles, a car gets flooded on the bar as the tide comes in. Gladstone officials closed vehicular access to the park starting April 8 until further notice, due to COVID-19 concerns.Large public gatherings and other health hazards have led Gladstone officials to close Medrum Bar Park to vehicles.

COURTESY PHOTO - In summer of 2019, a new boat dock at Meldrum Bar Park opened to the public in Gladstone.On April 8 until further notice, concrete barricades will be placed across River Road Drive. There is a walking path for citizens to visit the Willamette River or for community garden members wanting to access the park.

"Our main concern was the number of vehicular traffic in the area," said City Administrator Jacque Betz.

With many other parks closed and the Columbia River closed for fishing, fisherman from across the state were coming to Gladstone's boat launch, despite the governor's stay-at-home order to minimize the spread of COVID-19. City officials also reported gatherings of more than 100 people at the park who left trash throughout the area and human defecations near closed restrooms.

Gladstone officials expected the public-health issues to worsen this week as people flock outside during the predicted pleasant weather.

"This is a thoughtful decision to protect the citizens of our community," Betz said. "It is unfortunate that the behavior of many over the past two weekends have led us to this decision, however, it behooves the city to mitigate the risk of exposure."

Following the closure announcement, another compelling reason to close the park came up during the last night that the park was open to vehicles — April 7 — when police had to get a car towed out of the water. Two girls reportedly went river rafting and the tide came in.

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.

Have a thought or opinion on the news of the day? Get on your soapbox and share your opinions with the world. Send us a Letter to the Editor!