Don Morse Park – Connecting the Public with the Crystal Clear Waters of Lake Chelan

This summer in Washington has been beautiful, one of the nicest summers I can remember. The warm weather and sunshine bring out the best in Washington, highlighting the amazing natural beauty of our state. The summer brings us out of winter hibernation to enjoy the many outdoor recreation activities that make Washington such a great state to live in. With so many lakes, beaches, and rivers providing amazing opportunities to get out and enjoy the water, there are not enough weekends in the summer to enjoy them all.

One of my favorite summer vacation spots that I try to always make time for is stunning Lake Chelan. With its crystal clear waters, mountain views, sunshine, not to mention its new American Viticulture Appellation (AVA) Winery designation, Chelan promises a fun and scenic summer adventure. My family looks forward  each summer to the opportunity to visit Lake Chelan, staying at Campbell’s Beach Resort or other great venues around the lake. The days are primarily spent in the lake – swimming, floating, and boating.

As a waterfront engineer, I enjoy the technical challenges of designing large commercial and navy piers, but one of the most satisfying aspects of my work is being able to design public projects that enhance the ability of everyone to access and enjoy the waters of our state. One such recent project is the renovation of Don Morse Park for the City of Chelan on the shores of Lake Chelan. Don Morse Park is the main public waterfront park in the City, providing RV Camping, boat moorage, boat launching, boat rentals, picnicking, and swimming activities. The City wanted to increase public access opportunities at the park, including expanded moorage, extension of the boat ramp, and restoration of a public beach that had eroded over time leaving an exposed unsafe seawall along the shoreline edge.

Charles Sablan, Parks Director for the City, led the charge and persevered to move the project forward from a plan to its successful completion. Jim Brennan of JA Brennan led the design team, leading the way in the public process and setting the vision, helping the City to obtain multiple grants, and creating a people place with enhanced access to the water. Coast and Harbor Engineering led the coastal processes and beach restoration design, and Reid Middleton provided the engineering for the marina expansion and boat ramp extension. The Watershed Company and others provided additional services as part of a great team. KRCI and its subcontractors did a great job building the completed amenities.

Don Morse Park extends over one-third of a mile along the shoreline of the lake. Rather than focusing limited funding just on the beach or just on the marina, the City wanted to provide improvements to all shoreline amenities in the park. Cost savings measures to stay within available funds included reducing the size of the overall beach restoration and replacing proposed concrete panels on the new vertical wall breakwater with steel sheet piling placed horizontally.

I highly recommend you spend one of the remaining summer or fall weekends visiting Don Morse Park and Lake Chelan. Take along or rent a boat, float, or kayak and enjoy the lake, and maybe even visit one of the great Lake Chelan AVA wineries while you are there.