Crews will begin work this week on a series of infrastructure updates at Blue Lake Regional Park that will improve health, safety and accessibility at the beloved destination for years to come.
The work will start this week with soil testing ahead of a new water line planned for installation later this year. The park has been on well water since it first opened in 1925, and connecting to a municipal water supply will help meet the growing need for water and boost fire safety.
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History of Blue Lake Regional Park
1925: Blue Lake opened as a private park, with attractions such as the Blue Lake Dance Hall and amusement park rides.
1930: Well water pipes were installed at the park, along with a floating wooden dock.
1936: A fishing dock was constructed along the lake shoreline.
1960: Multnomah County acquired what was then known as Blue Lake Nature Park. The county removed the amusement rides and installed sanitary sewers and paved walks along the lake shoreline.
1964: Following a master planning process, the Blue Lake Nature Park plan was approved in October 1964. The Lake House and several other park structures were constructed around this time.
1986: Multnomah County funded a $9.2 million, five-year park improvement plan.
1994: Multnomah County Park Services Division merged with Metro Greenspaces to become Metro Regional Parks and Greenspaces. Ownership of Blue Lake Nature Park was transferred to Metro.
2006: A dedication ceremony for the Nichaqwli Monument Site was held at the Blue Lake Nature Park. The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde collaborated with artists to create a group of sculptures that evoke Chinook presence in a clearing at the edge of Blue Lake.
2006: A water spray ground was installed at the park.
2012: A gold-level disc golf course was added to the park.
2015: Metro begins development of a new master plan for Blue Lake Regional Park.
2019: A thorough inspection of amenities, buildings and utilities reveals that many aging structures at the park are no longer safe for public use. Metro begins work on a renovation plan to address these needs and keep Blue Lake fun, safe, healthy and relevant for future generations.
Other improvements will help revitalize Blue Lake’s aging infrastructure, most of which has not been updated for decades. The fishing pier has been closed for safety in recent months due to structural issues and is slated for removal later this year. The maintenance building at Blue Lake, which serves as the home base for most of Metro’s park maintenance operations, will be replaced. The aging office building and the Lake House, which is structurally unsound and lacks utilities, will also be removed. These improvements are possible thanks to the voter-approved 2019 parks and nature bond measure and will help keep the park safe while planning is underway for additional improvements.
“We’ve heard from voters that taking care of infrastructure, safety and accessibility improvements in Metro parks is a high priority,” said Olena Turula, a senior regional planner for Metro. “At Blue Lake, we’re starting with updating utilities and removing unsafe structures, since that’s an urgent need right now.”
Blue Lake is still open to the public, and fishing is permitted from the lake shoreline. Visitors can also enjoy a picnic under the trees or play disc golf on Blue Lake’s gold-level, 18-hole course. Some facilities, like the swim beach and paddle boats, closed last year to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic and will remain closed throughout this summer.
Decisions about whether to reopen the paddle boats or replace structures at the park will be made with input from community members and consideration for long-term feasibility.
Later this year, Metro staff will begin community engagement to identify priorities for future amenities and improvements at the park. People who use the park, especially those from historically marginalized communities, will have the chance to shape the future of visitor experiences at Blue Lake.
This engagement will build on planning that was done in 2015, and will incorporate key tenets of the 2019 parks and nature bond measure, including centering racial equity and climate resilience.
“We want to hear from people about how we can best provide fun, safe and inclusive experiences at Blue Lake,” Turula said.
Metro has made minor updates at Blue Lake Regional Park over the years, including a new park entryway, picnic areas and bathrooms funded by the 2013 voter-approved parks and natural areas levy. These were welcome enhancements, but the new renovation plan aims to address the park’s aging infrastructure and ensure the park is safe and accessible for years to come.
“Blue Lake Regional Park needs more work,” Turula said. “And we know voters are eager for us to get started.”