Eugene Downtown Riverfront Park Project Nearing Completion
The sun was bright and birds flew over the Willamette River while Project Manager Emily Proudfoot described the progress of the Downtown Riverfront Park project as she stood at the viewpoint where a path connects 5th Avenue to the water.
“This platform extends six to eight feet beyond… Now you really feel like you’re up and over the river,” said Proudfoot.
Many aspects of the design are meant to enhance the visitor's experience through interpretation and art.
The pedestrian and bike paths weave through the space like ripples on water. An inclusive water fountain meant to highlight the experiences of Eugene’s Black citizens has a prominent place near the DeFazio Bridge with a clear view of where the Across the Bridge community used to be.
Eventually, the plan is to have adaptive space to host live performances and art installations.
According to Proudfoot, another focus of the park design was to enhance the habitat of the river.
“Just by expanding the length of this river bank, by making this slope less steep, we give a lot more room for all of these plants and yes, bird habitat, and bugs,” said Proudfoot. “And anything you can do at this point to enhance a river bank that’s just a lot healthier for the river is awesome.”
The area is also created in such a way to sustain flooding. Last year, 24,000 native plants were put in the bank which will help anchor the soil.
The park was supposed to already be finished in preparation for the World Track and Field Championships this summer, but the pandemic changed that.
COVID-19 didn’t delay construction, according to Proudfoot, but did give crews breathing room on the timeline.
“The delay of the games until 2022,” said Proudfoot. “Enabled us all to breathe a little and just say, ‘Ok. We don’t have to be so stressed.’”
The park is just phase one of the Downtown Riverfront development. Proudfoot says the new plan is to have the park finished in June and ready for visitors in mid-July.