From its very conception in the fall of 2010, the Chehalem Paddle Launch attracted volunteers, collaborators and supporters from every corner of Newberg and Dundee.
CPL was launched as a project of the Ford Family Foundation Leadership Institute, the second such program in Newberg. Over 30 people – including high school, faith-based, elected, business, service, and philanthropic leaders – came together in the spirit of volunteerism and community development. Without this initial coaching and financial support from The Ford Family Foundation, there would be no rental facility and park on the banks of the Willamette River today.
Chehalem Park and Recreation District superintendent, Don Clements and the CPRD Board of Directors recognized the significant early and enthusiastic support from the ambitious core group of volunteers. The ripples continued with support from the superintendent of the Newberg School District, Paula Radich and school district staff. The wave swelled to include leaders and organizations throughout the county. Newberg mayor Bob Andrews and Dundee mayor Ted Crawford, along with both councils, quickly added support including planning assistance for the re-zoning necessary for the location on 8th Street in Dundee. Early funding also came from Newberg City Council, the Dundee Tourism Fund and Dundee Parks Committee approved by the Dundee City Council.
Representatives from George Fox University, Portland Community College, Chehalem Cultural Center, Newberg Providence Medical Center, The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and other community organizations were also supportive of the project and recognized the benefits to our citizens. The Newberg Area Habitat for Humanity donated an unused semi-trailer that eventually housed the rental facility operations. Local businesses provided materials, engineering work, and other support while the Newberg Early Morning Rotary was an important grantor of funds to CPL.
A key point in the evolution of the Chehalem Paddle Launch operation came when Tom and Kay Edwards of Dundee graciously agreed to site the park on their land on the banks of the Willamette River. A land-use agreement was drawn up and approved unanimously by the Dundee Planning Commission providing for the spectacular location of the CPL Park across from Ash Island, in a gentle channel of the Willamette. Like so many others along the way, Tom and Kay Edwards' vision and generosity added momentum to the project.
A significant grant from the Yamhill County Economic Development fund assured the eventual opening of the Chehalem Paddle Launch facility. With high-quality Canoes and Kayaks in hand, a record-breaking wet spring allowed time to finalize the work on the mobile rental facility trailer. Site preparation included many volunteers and the valued assistance of the Yamhill County Sheriff's Work Crew. Incredible progress on the site was achieved through roadwork and the parking area by Terry Paskett of TDP Landscaping.
In June of 2011, less than nine months after an idea bubbled through the varied-ranks of a volunteer community-development group called The Ford Family Foundation, Chehalem Paddle Launch opened and people of all ages ventured out on our Willamette River for recreation, relaxation, and exploration.