Proposed improvements along the Umatilla River aim to improve visibility and enhance the pedestrian experience along both sides of the river. Direct water access may be possible from both sides; however, only shoreline property on the north side is currently owned by the City of Pendleton and is already included in the City’s long-range park plan. Due to the presence of flood control levees, the south river shore remains under the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers. While direct access to water from both sides of the river is preferred, at this time proposals focus the north Umatilla subarea.
South Side of the River
The intersection of South Main Street and Byers Avenue functions as a primary gateway to downtown for city residents. Byers Avenue improvements will include a dedicated pedestrian and bicycle zone along the river that will connect major segments of the existing River Parkway Trail (see Figure 7). River Parkway Trail improvements include a dedicated 15-foot wide resurfaced asphalt right-of-way along the Umatilla River between SW 4th Street and SE 4th Street, complete with interpretive signage, lighting and lane striping.
Approaching Byers and Main, the bicycle and pedestrian trail connects to the sidewalk and private development opportunity areas. Two river overlooks are proposed in the vicinity; one a public deck overlook, and the other a private (e.g., restaurant) deck and dining area at the former Christian Science Church located at the northwest corner of Byers and Main. On the east side of Main Street, the River Parkway continues through Brownfield Park where lighting additions, wider paths and new signage improve safety around the public restroom facilities. Other private development sites include a large corner lot at SW 1st and Byers that could support 2-4 stories of mixed-use or residential development oriented to the Umatilla River. Byers Avenue improvements will include consistent pedestrian treatments that establish a seamless connection to the improved South Main Street area.
North Side of the River
An existing asphalt public parking lot at the intersection of NW Bailey Avenue and North Main Street should be improved with perimeter planting strips and an expanded riverfront path to support both bicycle and pedestrian uses (see Figure 8). An overlook point along this path with interpretive signage and seating will establish a visual and physical connection to the river. A “contra-flow” bike lane (opposite flow of vehicle traffic) in the west direction and a regular bike lane (parallel to flow of vehicle traffic) in the east direction along NW Bailey will make the North Umatilla River Subdistrict much friendlier and accessible for cyclists. A contra-flow bike lane is a designated facility marked to allow bicyclists to travel against the flow of traffic on a one-way street. (NW Bailey becomes a eastbound one-way street where it meets the access point to the riverside parking.) Other improvements include painted crosswalks at North Main Street and NW Bailey Avenue and at entries to the riverside parking lot along NW Bailey. These modest improvements will provide opportunities to connect Pendleton’s neighborhoods to the Downtown, while improving views of, and security along, the Umatilla River. The plantings will add needed shade and visual buffers between streets and parking areas.
With additional funding, it may be possible to construct an accessible path down to the water where people can cool off in the river when water levels are low during summer months. With careful considerations afforded to proper siting, floodproofing, and sensitivity to the surrounding flora and fauna, an anchored pathway to the river’s edge could also provide opportunities for environmental education and naturalist activities such as bird watching or fish counting. The pathway project would require a collaborative effort between environmental stakeholders, natural resource agencies, neighborhood residents, and city leaders. It is yet another opportunity to tell the Pendleton story.
INSERT FIGURE 7. SOUTH UMATILLA RIVER SUBDISTRICT IMPROVEMENTS
INSERT FIGURE 8. NORTH UMATILLA RIVER SUBDISTRICT IMPROVEMENTS
In addition to the new public spaces provided by the expanded sidewalks along South Main Street, the Festival Street (if constructed as part of the South Main Street improvements), and the enhancements made along the Umatilla River and the River Parkway, the community expressed a desire to retool the existing Downtown parks, especially Brownfield Park and Centennial Park. Brownfield Park should be improved to provide a more complete amphitheater space with the ability for stage lighting and convenient sound equipment. The park should also provide better trailhead facilities as many residents park on the north side of the River and access the River Parkway at Brownfield Park. Lastly, Brownfield Park improvements should enhance visibility of pedestrian pathways from the road and within the park itself. This can be achieved with lighting additions, well-designed signage and better-maintained park vegetation. Centennial Park should be improved to encourage more active use. The concrete barrier wall that currently hides the plaza from those walking along South Main Street should be removed or significantly shortened. Bollards can be added to provide similar protection from motor vehicles travelling along Dorion Avenue. The water feature should be restored and seating options should be improved with a variety of seat walls and/or moveable furnishings that are more flexible. Both parks are ideal locations for a combination of permanent and temporary public art.