Construction of Bellingham's newest waterfront park is scheduled to begin this summer. Design and permitting of Whatcom Waterway Park is nearly complete.
“After years of planning, Bellingham residents will soon have public access to the downtown waterfront on Whatcom Waterway,” said Leslie Bryson, Bellingham Parks & Recreation Director.
Located off Roeder Avenue and adjacent to Whatcom Waterway, this one-acre park will include a play area, artwork, native plants, walking paths, open space and a kayak beach. The existing Central Avenue pier will be converted from a street to a pedestrian and bicycle promenade and will connect to the park. A waterfront industrial artifact remaining from the former Georgia-Pacific pulp and tissue mill, the “Acid Ball,” (ca 1938) will be relocated to the park. This approximately 30-foot diameter globe was used as a relief system to draw liquid and gas from adjacent digester tanks to maintain a constant pressure while wood chips were being cooked in acid at high temperatures and pressures. As the main art feature for the park, it will be embellished with glass beads, and transformed into “Waypoint” by Mutuus Studio of Burien, Washington to help celebrate the industrial heritage of Bellingham's downtown waterfront.
Construction on other elements of the park have already started. Improvements to Central Pier, the park promenade and main pedestrian access into the waterfront, broke ground this winter. New steel piles were installed along with improvements to the shoreline. Additional work on the Pier, including enlarging the pier to connect to the Granary Building, is scheduled to start in April.
This project is funded by Greenway 3 Levy funds, State of Washington Department of Commerce Brownfield Grant, real estate excise taxes and park impact fees. Construction of the park and pier are expected to cost about $3.8 million.
This project is just the first of the 33 acres of parks planned for the former industrial site.
Other improvements to the waterfront include the addition of Granary and Laurel Street, which will connect Roeder to Cornwall with an arterial street, including a separated cycle track. Construction of these streets is anticipated to begin late summer of 2017. The restoration of the iconic Granary Building is underway, and when construction is completed later this year, the building will host new waterfront retail, restaurant and office uses.
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For more information, visit www.cob.org/parks.