Grand Ronde, OR. The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde redevelopment project at Willamette Falls is slated to receive $2 million in federal funding toward infrastructure improvements at the former site of the Blue Heron paper mill. The news comes out of U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley’s office, which announced plans for an upcoming Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill.
Senator Jeff Merkley said, “I’m pleased I was able to secure this $2 million in support of the Grand Ronde Tribes’ ongoing effort to clean up and restore the Blue Heron site at Willamette Falls—a location that holds significant historical and cultural significance to tribal nations. I will continue to advocate for this funding as it moves through Congress, and do everything I can to support the sovereignty and self-determination of tribal nations in Oregon.”
Here’s a video about the project:
The site is located in the center of Oregon City, Oregon, at the majestic Willamette Falls, the second largest waterfall in the United States by volume. It suffered years of heavy industrial use at the Blue Heron paper mill, which closed in 2011.
As a part of the broader redevelopment effort, which kicked off with demolition in September 2021, Grand Ronde will use this federal funding to improve street infrastructure and utilities on-site. These infrastructure improvements will cost around $3.7 million. This work will include new public access streets and an extension of Main Street from downtown Oregon City into the site. The previously vacated Water Avenue will be constructed from 99E to 4th Street, and 4th Street will be extended from Water Avenue to Main Street. Along with new streets, new public utilities will be installed to serve the development, including sanitary and storm sewers, a water main and facilities, streetlights, and traffic signals.
“Since its foreclosure, the old Blue Heron site has sat empty and abandoned. The funding allocated to the Grand Ronde Tribe under the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development appropriations bill will allow us to make significant improvements to the property’s infrastructure and take this project one step closer to welcoming family and friends back to Willamette Falls,” said Cheryle A. Kennedy, Chairwoman of the Grand Ronde Tribal Council. “We want to thank our Senators for work they’ve done to highlight this important project.”
The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill also includes support in a variety of other areas, including affordable housing and homelessness services. The bill is the basis for negotiations with the House, as Congress works to fund the government for fiscal year 2022.
Senator Merkley is the only Oregon member of Congress from either chamber since Senator Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee, considered to be one of the most powerful on Capitol Hill. He joined the committee in 2013 so that Oregon would have a strong voice in decisions about the investments our nation should be making.