New Willamette River Beach Opens Friday

Portland will soon pass another milestone in its evolution as a city. The official opening of Audrey McCall Beach will occur Friday, July 5th at 1:30pm. The new beach will be the second to open in Portland – after Poet’s Beach three years ago, and Portland’s first official swimming beach on the eastside. Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde will lead the ceremony with a blessing for the river. A broad array of partners from all levels of government will be in attendance.

Located on the east bank of the Willamette River near Hawthorne Bridge, Audrey McCall Beach has been a work in progress since the nonprofit Human Access Project (HAP) began its effort in 2012. HAP volunteers and Multnomah County inmate work crews removed nearly 20 tons of concrete, glass, and debris by hand from the riverbank over four years.

HAP has completed all permits required to create a swimming area at the beach and privately fundraised for all aspects of the $25,000 lifeguard program from storage, to swim line, to life jacket loaners to the lifeguards themselves. Lifeguards will be stationed at AMBAudrey McCall Beach Friday-Sunday 2pm-6pm from July 5th – September 1st. The lifeguards will put out a temporary swim line, and lifejacket loaner station. “Portland is about to become a little more fun,” HAP Ringleader, Willie Levenson

To keep the area clean, HAP will partner with Ground Score, a peer-led association of can and bottle collectors, dumpster divers and other low-income individuals who reuse and recycle as a means of survival. Ground Score, organizes workers and helps pair them with paid, low-barrier opportunities. Seven days a week through September 1, Ground Score workers will pick up trash at Audrey McCall Beach. HAP will pay for the cleanup work.

“It has been broadly publicized by City, County and State agencies that the Willamette River is safe for swimming. Our city has a moral responsibility to direct people to the least risky places to get into the river and to engineer these places to be as safe as possible. There is little to no communication about where to find these safer places. HAP is proud of our role in both introducing our city to our river in a new way, and taking action to make it safer,” HAP Ringleader, Willie Levenson

The beach is nicknamed for Audrey McCall, former First Lady of Oregon who was an activist, environmentalist, and inspiration to her husband, Governor Tom McCall. A champion of many causes, she also loved to swim according to her son, Tad McCall, who is on the HAP Board of Trustees.

HAP suggests the basics of river swimming safety for all rivers. Never swim alone, always wear river shoes, a life jacket and to always have a healthy respect for rivers, they are living systems that are never the same twice.

Source: Human Access Project

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