Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., visited the Willamette Falls Legacy Project site Feb. 27 for a tour of the 22-acre riverfront parcel adjacent to downtown Oregon City.
Merkley's visit coincides with an important milestone for the project as the design collective of Snøhetta, Mayer/Reed and Dialog enters the design phase for a riverwalk, which will provide public access to Willamette Falls for the first time in more than a century. A series of community engagement events starts later this month to find out what people would like to do and experience at the riverwalk.
Staff and elected officials from the State of Oregon, Metro, Clackamas County, Oregon City and West Linn greeted Merkley at the site and updated him on the Willamette Falls Legacy Project, as well as the Willamette Falls Heritage Area Coalition and Willamette Falls Locks.
The Willamette Falls Legacy Project is a partnership between Oregon City, Clackamas County, Metro and the State of Oregon to provide a public riverwalk along the Willamette River at the former Blue Heron paper mill site, which closed in 2011. The project also aims to partner with the new property owner, Falls Legacy LLC, to promote mixed-use redevelopment at an industrial site known as the birthplace of Oregon.
Merkley is also a supporter of a grant application submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assess suspected "brownfields" that could contain petroleum and other hazardous substances along a 9-mile stretch of Oregon 99E, including the Willamette Falls Legacy Project site.
For more information about the Willamette Falls Legacy Project and to sign up for project updates, visit rediscoverthefalls.com.