Willamette Falls Trust celebrated a major milestone on Friday, January 5, 2018, when Metro councilors gave their unanimous approval to the Willamette Falls Riverwalk master plan. The plan articulates the long-term vision that will guide development and public access at the former Blue Heron paper mill site in downtown Oregon City. Oregon City commissioners were expected to consider approving the master plan in February 2018.
The Riverwalk, trails, a public boat dock and other amenities will bring visitors up close to North America’s second most powerful waterfall, which has remained largely hidden behind industrial buildings for more than a century. The first phase of the Riverwalk is scheduled to open in 2022.
The Riverwalk will be built in phases. The first phase includes repurposing the boiler complex and Mill H buildings to provide upper and lower scenic overlooks. It would also provide for some restoration work, public gathering places and the demolition of some of the more than 50 buildings currently on-site to prepare for future developments.
Future phases will be planned in coordination with the private owners of the site and would depend on available funding. Improvements would include trails along the Portland General Electric dam to allow visitors even closer views of Willamette Falls with an overlook at the Hawley Powerhouse foundation site. Additional work would complete the signature public gathering place nicknamed “the public yard,” convert Mill O into a sheltered gathering spot, restore the historic shoreline to support native plants and fish, along with additional improvements.