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Central City Potential Swimming Beach Sites Study

The City is investigating the best site in the Central Reach to consider as a potential swimming beach.

The Urban Design Concept that was developed based on input from Central Reach stakeholders identified several shallow-water areas with potential as public swimming beaches. The Eastbank Crescent is one of the sites, and the Eastbank Crescent Riverfront Plan is considering the incorporation of a family-oriented beach in the design.

Because the City does not currently manage or operate a public beach, the Central City Potential Swimming Beach Study was commissioned to examine the feasibility of establishing a public swimming beach on the Willamette River. The study results will be presented to the Portland City Council in early 2017.

The Swimming Beach Study:

  • Investigates key criteria for development of a safe, accessible public swimming beach.
  • Evaluates five of the identified shallow-water areas to determine how each site addresses these criteria.
  • Ranks the sites against each other and provides insight into the level of investment and types of amenities that would be necessary to develop a successful public beach.

The sites were selected with consideration of ease of access to the Central City; current use as river access for swimming; presence of shallow, wade-able water; ownership by the public or in planning for future public recreational uses; and located outside of and away from industrial areas.

In addition to the Eastbank Crescent, the four other sites under evaluation are:

  1. McCormick Pier, north of the Steel Bridge on the west side of the river.
  2. Waterfront Park Bowl, just south of the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge.
  3. “Poetry by the Beach,” under the Marquam Bridge on the west side of the river.
  4. Zidell Property, in South Waterfront on the west side of the river.

To help identify criteria for a successful public beach and gauge public interest in a swimming beach in the Central Reach, Portland Parks and Recreation conducted a survey targeting youth, young adults and families throughout the city, including historically underserved communities. Respondents overwhelmingly supported the idea of a public beach on the Willamette River in the heart of the city.

The City does not have funding to develop a public swimming beach at this time, but the Swimming Beach Study is the first step to determine the best sites to consider for the future.