A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

City files for review of riverfront renovation

Written January 27th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

I shot this last August from one of the two piers to be refurbished in Albany’s riverfront project.

Albany is taking another step toward redeveloping the Willamette riverfront. One department of the city government has applied to another for approval of a site plan and related permits for making changes in Monteith Riverpark, on the Dave Clark Path, and along Water Avenue.

The project has been in the works for years, and the general design has already won approval from the city council, acting in its capacity as the Albany Revitalization Agency, which runs CARA, the downtown urban renewal district.

The application was filed with the planning division by the CARA staff. It asks for approval of the site plan, including tree felling, and review of the impact of floodplain issues and any impact on natural resources.. Neighboring property owners along the riverfront were sent notices and have until Feb. 7 to submit comments.

Approving the plans is up to Community Development Director Matthew Ruettgers.

The Jan. 24 public notice of the filing invites people to inspect details of the plans at the planning division in City Hall, but because of Covid restrictions people need an appointment to do so.

At Monteith Riverpark, the plan calls for a new entrance plaza and drop-off area, a new splash pad and playground, a new stage, and direct access to the riverbank. The park restroom and two piers above the riverbank are to be renovated. Invasive species on the bank and along the Clark path are to be removed.

The senior center, renamed the community center by the parks department, will remain. The parking lots will be resurfaced.

On Water Avenue, changes are planned along 14 blocks. (I previously counted 13; maybe I missed one.)

From Washington to the Ellsworth Street bridge, the plan calls for a “flush street design” without curbs. This is to allow the street to be used for special events like festivals.

The rest of the street, east to Main Street, has been designed as a “typical street” with curbs, sidewalks, trees, planters, and features to catch runoff.

Councilman Dick Olsen has complained that the council approved the project without ever having seen detailed designs. Now there’s a chance for him and the rest of us to go see them. But don’t forget to call ahead and make an appointment first. (hh)

17 responses to “City files for review of riverfront renovation”

  1. Bill Higby says:

    It is interesting that re-building the wading pond at Takena or replacing it with a splash pad was considered too expensive due to operating costs but is now in the construction plans for Monteith River Park. I still wonder how a city that cannot maintain its streets is going to handle the expense of maintaining the Willamette riverfront project. The city certainly did not do a good job the last go around.

  2. MarK says:

    How about “revitalizing” downtown and “resurfacing” our city streets?

  3. Dick Olsen says:

    Thanks Hasso, Can you tell us who we should call and where we can see this unadvertised plan. I haven’t seen it, the city administration won’t allow CARA (urban renewal board) to comment on it, and there have been no public hearings on it. When I ask about public hearings, I’m told by management “every i has been dotted, and every t has been crossed”. However, when I ask friends, neighbors, or those waiting in interminable grocery lines, I get blank stares and questions as to what I’m talking about. Most don’t seem to like it much. I fear Covid and the lack of a real newspaper have made it far to easy to hold so-called public meetings where nobody knows about them and nobody shows up.

    You didn’t mention the cost (around $20 million), or the eight or ten rail crossing gates (at about $1/2million a piece) that will allow higher-speed rail traffic through this questionable project. Also, this council has given management permission to gather up every last penny of CARA’s remaining dollars to spend on this project. Beyond that, management is permitted to mortgage all loan repayments and any future tax increment monies that may accrue to spend on this vanity project.

    I fear some see this vanity project as a major plus to their resumés. I see it as a betrayal to those who have spent their time, effort, and their own financial resources towards making downtown Albany the healthy, enjoyable place to live, work, eat out, and generally to pursue that happiness we all dream of.

    I’m obviously disappointed. To me our urban renewal project is finishing up as a sad withered shadow of the CALUTS plan presented to the public in 2001.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      The place to call is the planning division at 541-917-7550. As for gates at rail crossings, the consultant told the council at the last presentation I remember that automatic gates would not be required.

      • hj.anony1 says:

        Up is Down, Down is Up. Is that my council member asking HH for details on this?

        I think I’m getting sick to my stomach.


        • Douglas Furr says:

          “…, including tree felling,…”

          Instead of shaking your head, strap yourself to a tree and protest its planned killing.

          The mass murder of Albany’s trees must stop. Shame on ARA/CARA.

      • Dick Olsen says:

        You’r right Hasso, the consultant said no railroad gates are required. However, when I asked the same question at our last ARA meeting, City staff said eight railroad gates are planned and several streets will be closed. Why is our city staff determined to give the railroad this major gift that will only deteriorate the livability of the area?

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      OMG the IRONY! Most of us feel that way about the council members all the time. Why the hell should they tell you anything? That’s how it works.

  4. Stephen Smith says:

    Why can’t the plans be posted online so that everyone can see?

  5. Marilyn Smith says:

    The full history of the waterfront project including the final design is online: albanywaterfront.net

  6. Jon says:

    I’ve looked at final plans on the website and heard them discussed many times at public meetings as well

  7. Rachel La Brasseur says:

    I’m still asking for more street lighting for south Albany?

  8. TLH-ALB1 says:

    What a waste of time.
    Look around the city and one can envision a multitude of projects that are in immediate need of attention/repair!!
    Monteith Park is one that I would consider to be way down (or last) on the list of things our city leaders need to expend any energy on.


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