Ridgefield hosts open house for waterfront park master plan


Ridgefield city and port officials are currently incorporating public feedback into a master plan for a waterfront park, which will be developed on the city’s existing waterfront trail.

Ridgefield Parks Director Corey Crownhart and Port of Ridgefield staff hosted an open house at the city’s civic center Tuesday, Jan. 30 to hear what they would like the property, located on the east side of Lake River, to include in the future.

Residents answered four questions presented by officials, including whether they currently use the waterfront park area, how they would like to use it in the future, whether their suggestions came from visiting other parks, and what else the team should know about the waterfront.

“[When] we’re developing parks and trails and any asset within our community, we want it to be a reflection of our community members’ vision, their needs and aspirations,” Crownhart said.

The Port of Ridgefield is currently developing a plan to build on the area west of the proposed park development site. The plan would expand on the site, which currently features a trail that overlooks the waterfront shore. Future improvements would take place on eight acres west of the trail that is currently undeveloped.

“The city of Ridgefield only has so much waterfront at this point, about 1,500 feet, and it’ll be the only waterfront we ever have,” Crownhart said. “So how we develop is really important for the future of our city.”

Open house participants were mostly in favor of park development on the proposed site. Some concerns they shared centered around development outside of the park zone as the Port of Ridgefield wants to incorporate more commercial ventures near the waterfront.

Ridgefield local Shannon Schick said she loves the waterfront and mainly uses it to go kayaking on Lake River but would like to see future development include amenities for activities and events, so park visitors actively use the land.

“I primarily want to make sure that we can still enjoy the natural part of it and not have it just become industrial,” Schick said.

Stephanie Koellermeier, a three-year city resident, wants the park to maintain the spirit of Ridgefield. Koellermeier hopes any waterfront developments outside of the park site will accommodate parking for boat users.

“I would love to see a park reflective of Ridgefield, connecting to the wildlife refuge, continuing that feel that it already has [by] incorporating other things that people can enjoy, the trails, being in nature [and] being able to go kayaking,” Koellermeier said. “[It’s] a popular marina for the fishermen, so we’re concerned about parking and how that’s going to be managed with all the upcoming development in the area.”

Rick Grenz, who lives nearby the property in question, used to regularly launch his boat from the waterfront. Lately, he bikes to and from the waterfront twice a week. Grenz supports additions in the proposed park development site but shared similar concerns regarding parking and future access to public waterways. Grenz said that parking space is too limited to accommodate people wanting to take their boats out.

“I’m totally in favor [of] planning for the park, that’s all great, but let’s not leave out the motorized boat folks with boat trailers and just leave them out of the picture. That’s what’s happening,” Grenz said. “... Port- and city-owned boat launches up and down the Columbia River [all] provide for motorized access to public waterways. Ridgefield is the only one that comes to mind that doesn’t provide for that access.”

The city and port are jointly planning and designing the park property along the shoreline. Crownhart said once a master plan is built, both the Ridgefield City Council and the port would approve the final design.