Wheels turn at waterfront workshop

Local residents submit ideas for former Hambleton Lumber site

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Some people who showed up at an open house had plenty to say regarding the revitalization of the former Hambleton Lumber Company site and additional waterfront properties.

More than 50 individuals, as well as port commissioners and staff, attended the planning workshop Wednesday night.

Killian Pacific, a commercial real-estate development and investment company located in Vancouver and Portland, is interested in buying the former lumberyard located at 335 “A” St., Washougal. The public-private partnership with the port and Killian Pacific could result in a mixed-use development with retail and housing.

In July, the port received a $200,000 Integrated Planning Grant from the Department of Ecology to determine what environmental cleanup may be required.

The port owns 14.7 acres on the other side of the former Hambleton site, known as the Sixth Street property.

After talking about the history of David C. Parker and Parker’s Landing at the open house, Roger Daniels, of Washougal, mentioned Parker’s Landing is on a lot of maps.

“Part of your marketing is already done,” he said, referring to a suggested name for a future waterfront development.

Daniels mentioned a nautical, frontier, pioneer theme could be suitable for the development.

Additional themes mentioned by other individuals included the river, steamboats and a mountain base camp.

Daniels’ presentation included a copy of an 1845 painting by Paul Kane. It showed temporary lodges that Chinook Indians lived in while spending weeks away from their permanent lodges to gather roots and hunt.

Daniels said an archeologist hired several years ago by RiverWalk on the Columbia LLC “found nothing of major archeological significance” in the waterfront area near Hambleton.

“It’s not a burial site,” Daniels said.

Gary Simmons, a Washougal boater, said the waterfront development should be a destination that is “economically viable — an 18-hour community where people spend money.”

He referred to the Pearl District of Portland and Astoria, Ore., as examples of 18-hour communities.

“Boaters are looking for destinations to go to,” Simmons said.

Karen Hall, co-owner of Camas Hotel and Oliver’s restaurant, wondered if the timing for a waterfront development could be premature.

“Washougal and Camas are not full,” she said. “It could help, or it could draw away [customers from the downtown areas]. We could lose merchants.”

Hall later mentioned that opening a store such as REI on the waterfront would be in keeping with the regional interest in outdoor recreational opportunities.

David Christensen, an architect and planner with Christensen Design Management, said REI stores can be 100,000 square-feet in size.

Mariann Guetter, co-owner of Riverside Marine Service, spoke in favor of building a community center with a pool on the waterfront.

“It would help with the stores [to attract customers],” she said.

Guetter mentioned that retail tenants in the Riverplace marina development in Portland tend to be seasonal rentals because they are expensive.

She said the local waterfront area could be a good place for senior housing.

“55 and up — that’s me,” Christensen said.

Richard Hamby, of Washougal, said a ‘big box’ store such as Home Depot would be the “wrong thing” for the waterfront.

He said the “Riverside Concert Series,” usually held in Marina Park, could instead be located in the Sixth Street area.

“Retailers love events, for the crowd spillover” Hamby said.

Martha Martin, of Washougal, spoke in favor of building a multi-use arts and cultural center that could hold indoor concerts on the peninsula area of the Hambleton property.

“And weddings,” Guetter said.

Martin said there should be flat space available for parking and the disabled.

“In Clark Park, the covered area is far from parking,” she said.

Martin would like the Sixth Street property used for a public park and waterfront access.

“Once you build on that, you can’t get it back,” she said.

Rosalee MacRae, of Camas, said the local waterfront land is “very special” because it is unencumbered by railroad tracks.

She moved to this area in 1964.

“I live on an acre on a steep hillside,” MacRae said. “Being close to nature enriches your life.”

She spoke in favor of having a covered structure for picnics.

MacRae said having a restaurant similar to Beaches open on the site of the former Parker House Restaurant would be a destination for visitors. The vacant 12,000 square-foot “Black Pearl” building, located at 56 S. “A” St., Washougal, remains available to lease or purchase.

The next steps in the waterfront revitalization planning process involve developing conceptual plan alternatives this winter. A community meeting to review the planning alternatives is expected to occur in the spring of 2012.