Chelan PUD is starting work this month on major improvements to recreation spots along the Columbia River in Wenatchee. 

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The nearly $12 million project will bring upgrades to Riverfront Park, The Apple Capital Loop Trail and Walla Walla Point Park. 

PUD spokesperson Rachel Hansen says it's actually three projects that were brought together for a reason. 

"One of the benefits to lumping together those projects is that we received a more favorable bid," said Hansen. "So, it is less expensive in the long run to treat this as one bigger project than to treat it as three separate ones. It creates efficiency."  

Image of Apple Capital Loop Trail improvements - Chelan PUD
Image of Apple Capital Loop Trail improvements - Chelan PUD

The PUD added $4.7 million to its Wenatchee Riverfront Park Phase 1 development plan on May 6, bringing the total budget to $11.7 million. Phase 1 includes all the improvements in the project. Notably, the city of Wenatchee chipped in $1 million toward the effort. 

The work is being planned to minimize trail impacts and keep visitors safe in the parks.  

Starting after Labor Day, the PUD will periodically create detours when needed. Beforehand, there’ll be construction and trail flagging in the Riverfront Kids Train Depot Plaza to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe. Signs will direct visitors to designated areas. 

Image of Riverfront Park Splash Pad - Chelan PUD
Image of Riverfront Park Splash Pad - Chelan PUD

One of the biggest new attractions will be a splash pad with a Columbia River steamboat theme, which will be located at the end of Fifth Street. 

Another upgrade will be the separation of several areas of the Loop Trail into sections for pedestrians and bicycles and repairing a dip in the trail near the Riverside 9 Apartments. 

Hansen says the project fulfills a federal obligation and the utility's vision for the county. 

“Providing recreation is part of how we fulfill our requirements to FERC licenses that allow us to operate the dams, and it fulfills our mission of enhancing the quality of life for customers in Chelan County,” Hansen said. 

The PUD began leasing the 31-acre Riverfront Park from the city in 1983 to meet its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licensing agreement allowing it to operate the Rock Island Dam. 

The utility also manages Walla Walla Park as part of its federal licensing agreement. 

Work on the project is scheduled to wrap up by Memorial Day of next year.

Apple Capital Loop Trail Improvements: 

  • The trail between Ninth Street and the Riverfront Kids Train Depot will split in several areas to allow separate “safe spaces” for various recreation, such as pedestrians and non-motorized bikes/vehicles. Other areas will see widened trails. These improvements will enhance trail use and safety in congested areas. 
  • Part of the trail behind Riverside 9 apartments will be leveled and widened for speed control and safety. Access to the river in this location will remain as it currently is. 

Riverfront Park Improvements: 

  • A new splash pad – with a Columbia River steamboat theme – will be added to the area at the end of Fifth Street, directly south of the existing bathroom. 
  • An apple-themed children’s play area and bathroom will be constructed near the Train Depot Plaza. 
  • A grand pavilion with picnic seating will be constructed north of the splash pad. 
  • Some public art will be relocated to other sections of the park to fit with the new improvements. All art will remain onsite. 
  • Visitors will see landscaping improvements and a few trees removed. Landscaping will include trees, shrubs and flowers of native habitat. 

Walla Walla Point Park Improvements: 

  • The PUD will add a new, full court basketball area for tournament play to replace the previous courts that were located in the tennis and pickleball area. 
  • Grading work around the courts will alleviate water runoff issues. 
  • A trail will be added with ADA access from the south parking lot. 
  • The north end parking lot will be fortified, restored, and resurfaced with asphalt. 
  • Other additions will include a new drinking fountain for the basketball court and lighting conduit for potential lights in the future. 


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