Portland wants to open new Willamette River swimming area

Duckworth memorial dock to become swim spot

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The City of Portland has announced plans to turn the 20-year-old Kevin Duckworth Memorial Dock, named after the beloved Trail Blazer, into a premiere swimming and recreational area.

The dock floats on the east side of the Willamette River just south of the Steel Bridge.

Currently, only motorized boats are supposed to be using it.

The dock was actually built to attract boaters downtown and give them a place to tie up and perhaps take in a Blazers game. But it ended up attracting more transient boats than recreational, along with vandals.

Now, the city wants to change that.

Mayor Wheeler announced plans to convert the dock into a "world-class" recreational swimming area.

It would have a designated roped-off swim and float area, possibly even a lap lane. There would be areas for fishing, paddle boards and kayaks. And like the newly opened Poet's Beach on the other side of the river, there would also be lifeguards on duty.

"The real benefit of this dock is the U-shape so you can swim on the inside of the dock and be completely protected from boat traffic," explained Willie Levenson with the Human Access Project.

Levenson has been working with the City of Portland on the plan.

"This is going to create one more opportunity for people to get into the river," he said.

The question now is: When will this change will happen?

The dock is currently restricted to motorized boat-use until the year 2021. However, the city is working with the Oregon State Marine Board to shorten that time and get swimmers in sooner.

As for a cost to make the changes? Levenson estimates they could be made for about $200,000.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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