New Dundee park promotes river fun
By NICOLE MONTESANO
Of the News-Register
A new park in Dundee gives area residents and tourists access to the Willamette River, together with kayak and canoe rentals.
It's a first step in what officials hope will be a series of trails and parks all along the riverfront between Newberg and Dundee.
For now, however, Chehalem Paddle Launch provides a spot to take a walk along the river, or to launch a boat and enjoy the view from the water. One weekends, kayaks and canoes are available for rent. People also may launch their own boats.
Dundee Mayor Ted Crawford and Newberg City Councilor Bart Rierson spoke by cell phone from a canoe about the events that led to the creation of the new park as they celebrated its success with a boat ride.
Last October, serendipity - and the Ford Family Foundation - city councilors from Dundee and Newberg, along with members of the Chehalem Parks and Recreation Department and other local residents, were brought together in one of the foundation's rural leadership classes. Class members work on community enhancement projects as part of their training.
A member suggested a boat launch park, modeled after one in Waldport, and the idea caught on.
Originally, Crawford said, the group thought it would set up a canoe and kayak rental at Rogers Landing in Newberg. However, it ran into provisions banning commercial activity there, and concerns about conflicts with motor boats.
But the city of Dundee owned easement rights to the river down Eighth Street, through a parcel of land owned by Tom and Kay Edwards.
A series of negotiations provided an agreement by the Edwards to accommodate the launch site, including a trailer for boat rentals, and an agreement by the Chehalem Parks and Recreation District to manage and operate the park.
With those nailed down, the group set about raising money and seeking a conditional use permit from the city.
"It came together amazingly fast," Crawford said. "Even the Ford Foundation calls this the fast and furious group."
No one believed the park could actually be opened in less than a year, Rierson said, but everyone seemed to love the idea.
"It's amazing how much teamwork we saw on this project," he said. "It was not just our two communities; everybody we approached on this project wanted to work with us, and went out of their way to help make it possible. ...
"When we first took this on, people told us 'You're crazy; there's no way to get this done this year.' But then they'd say, 'But how can we help?' It's been very rewarding."
The group raised $27,000 for the project, with donations from the Ford Family Foundation, the cities of Newberg and Dundee, Yamhill County, the Newberg Rotary Club and Climax Precision Tools of Newberg.
Habitat for Humanity donated an old construction trailer that Rierson refurbished. The group purchased 14 kayaks, four canoes, equipment for them, including life jackets and instruction manuals, and a trailer to haul them, that is also available for use.
The park is open daily.
Boat rentals are available from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, from mid-June through Labor Day. Cost is $20 for two hours; $25 for four hours, or $40 for eight hours. All payments must be made by credit card.
"It's an inexpensive way for a family to get out and have fun together," Rierson said.
Boats may be reserved ahead of time, or on the spot. For more information, or to make reservations Monday through Thursday, call 503-537-2909. On Saturdays and Sundays, after 10 a.m., call 503-687-1706.
Information also is available on the park district's website, at www.cprdnewberg.org/chehalempaddlelaunch.shtml.