New swimming and fishing dock for North Portland (Jan. 2024)

Willie Levenson, ringleader of the Human Access Project (HAP), shared with the Cathedral Park Neighborhood Association in December that HAP received a federal grant of $300,000 to improve recreational access to the Willamette River. Levenson reached out to Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) and negotiated a partnership to replace the Cathedral Park dock near the Pittsburg St. turn around.

Sellwood Fishing and Swimming dock
Sellwood Fishing and Swimming dock an example of the future Cathedral Park dock

The partnership would match HAP’s $300,000 with funds from PP&R. Parks leaders were excited at the prospect and agreed. The old dock has been removed, which also facilitated access to the Cathedral Park South Beach for the removal of rock last summer.

Levenson noted that, “Over the course of the winter and spring, tidal cycles and increased river levels from snow melt will smooth out the south beach so it feels beachier.” The total cost of the new dock including labor is close to $900,000. It will be installed by next summer. 

The new Cathedral Park Dock will have multiple ladders for swimming which HAP will pay for. For a preview, it will have a very similar design to the swimming dock at Sellwood Riverfront Park. It will be elevated by pontoons to increase water circulation under the covered area. HAP and the Cathedral Park Neighborhood Association are planning a grand opening party for the new swimming & fishing dock and the restored Cathedral Park South Beach next summer. Stay tuned to the North Peninsula Review for more details about that and beach litter cleanups.

Dock swimming ladders on the Willamette River
Swimming ladders similar to the ones for the future Cathedral Park fishing and swimming dock

“When next summer rolls around, over 170 tons of concrete will have been removed since 2021 and a new dock will be in place. It will be an extreme makeover of the park—Cathedral Park will be a river recreation playground,” exclaimed Levenson.

The Cathedral Park beach is important regionally as the only place within the Willamette River superfund area that allows recreational access the river. The water column is safe for swimming since the cleanup is concentrated on the sediment. It is the safest place North Portlanders and Linnton residents can swim.

Levenson added that “More work lies ahead to clean up Willamette Cove and address the harmful cyanobacteria bloom that has developed there. This is a circulation problem that can and must be addressed in the Cove cleanup. It’s very important that St. Johns residents stay engaged in the process to be sure your river is safe for recreation year round. Particularly in the summertime.”

HAP did go over budget by $3,000 in completing the rock cleanup work. Any donations to help pay for this overrun would be appreciated. More information on Human Access Project and donations can be made at

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