River Park Improvements, Borough of Columbia, PA

BH collaborated with the Borough of Columbia to provide construction documents and obtain all necessary permits for Phase I and II of the revitalization of Columbia River Park.

The project site, which is situated on the east bank of the Susquehanna River immediately south of the Veteran’s Memorial (Route 462) Bridge, is owned by Old Columbia Public Grounds and leased to the Borough for use and maintenance of the park. The Borough obtained grants from various organizations to finance the park improvements.

Phase I of the Columbia River Park offers six different ways to engage with the Susquehanna River:

  • The Walnut Street Overlook for scenic viewing
  • The Walnut Street River Access for passive interaction at the water’s edge
  • An ADA-accessible floating dock for disabled persons’ access to the water. The floating docks are removable for seasonal use
  • A removable floating dock for boarding water vessels
  • A renovated boat launch for direct launch of watercraft into the water
  • Canoe and kayak access allowing the launch of smaller craft

Upon entering the park, visitors arrive at the Phase II building, a 4,000-SF single-story building with an adjacent 2,000-SF pavilion. Available amenities include an information center with restrooms and a kayak, canoe, and bicycle concession space.

Access to all site facilities is supplied with a new driveway and parking lot layout, sidewalks, and an ADA-compliant walkway along the water’s edge. Lighting is provided throughout the park for safe 24-hour use.

Green design practices have been thoughtfully used in the project site design, including the selection of only native plantings, stabilization of the river’s edge with seeding and matting, and best management practices for runoff water quality using rain gardens in the parking lot, geoblock overflow parking and pervious concrete and asphalt surfaces. Green design practices were also applied in the building by the use of locally made stone veneers, recycled roof products, low maintenance and non-pollutant interior finishes, and ventable windows.

Phase I Construction began in fall 2009 and the park opened in May 2010, just in time for boating season. Phase II construction is complete andĀ opened in May 2014.

The Borough of Columbia and BH were awarded the 2010 Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence in Promoting Community and Economic Revitalization for this project. The project was also awarded the Keystone 20th Anniversary Award for an Exemplary Park and Recreation Project and received the Keystone Recreation, Park & Conservation Fund which is designed to recognize successful Keystone projects throughout the Commonwealth, and the release of a new report by The Trust for Public Land finding that every $1 invested by the Keystone Fund in land and water conservation returns $7 in economic value of natural goods and services.