Monday, August 13th, 2018
Waypoint Park Opens New Beach on Bellingham Waterfront
Todd Elsworth

Opening up the newly developed downtown Bellingham waterfront to the public, Waypoint Park is a welcome beacon for “Bellinghamsters” and visitors alike. Whether you’ve lived here a lifetime or are just passing through, public access to the waterfront in downtown, is recognized as a valuable attraction.

Waypoint Park

The City of Belingham explains on it’s website: “This project has been identified as a priority project for public access and enjoyment of the Waterfront District development site.  Access to the waterfront, both physical and visual, has long been a desire of the citizens of Bellingham. ”

Leslie Bryson, Bellingham Parks & Recreation Director speaks to the process and the future, “It’s been a long time coming, but we finally have our first park on the waterfront.   The public has been patient during the many years of planning, design, and cleanup, but we think the resulting park is worth the wait.  The new pedestrian promenade over Central Pier, the unique playground, winding landscaped pathways and beach shoreline make this a special place.  And, the Waypoint Sculpture is sure to become Bellingham’s new iconic structure. We look forward to extending the park along the waterway.”

Moving into the future, Waypoint Park, will connect people to the water and to further development on the waterfront. Check out the park plan as a cornerstone in the drawing below. The highlights of the park including Waypoint “Acid Ball”; the Granary Building; the Playground; and the Beach are detailed below.

Paddling up the Whatcom Waterway gives another perspective of how this park connects our downtown to the waterfront and to the new Central Avenue Pier.

Within the Whatcom Waterway you can look out the mouth of the creek and into the bay with Lummi Island in the background. In the photo below, on the left you see the big ball sitting on the horizon- leftover from the ol’ Georgia Pacific pulp mill from a bygone era in Bellingham’s history.

Waypoint “Acid Ball”

On land the big ball is impressive and draws you in. “The Acid Ball” is now (supposed to be) referred to as Waypoint– the sculpture that the piece was transformed into as part of the park development by Mutuus Studios.

“The acid ball, which was part of the former Georgia-Pacific industrial operations on the waterfront, is being turned into a glowing piece of public art. After reviewing the jury’s recommendation and considering significant public comment, the Bellingham Arts Commission recommended to Mayor Kelli Linville that “Waypoint” by Mutuus Studios be selected as the embellishment sought in the City’s Call for Proposals,” exlains the City of Bellingham website. “As an industrial artifact, the acid ball, was relocated to a new park, embellished with glass beads, and transformed into a beacon of light for the city.”

Yes, you read it right! The piece is embellished with tiny (reflective) glass beads, the same material used as “traffic coatings” on roads for reflectivity. At night, lights illuminate the surface colored in glass beads with a variety of color.

The Granary Building

The big white building, accented with the red roof, is known as the Granary Building. It was originally built as an egg coop for chicken farmers, it will house a variety of businesses as it gets filled up with tenants in the months and years to come. Dive into the history of When Chickens Ruled the Economic Roost.

Granary from Roeder

The Playground

My impression of the playground is that the design of the playground is for kids to feel like they are at the beach, with driftwood piling up along the shore. I enjoy the simple design of the play structures, offering kids to be creative and use their imagination to enjoy the area. The cool blue of the ground, looks like a slice of the Caribbean Sea. The landing is made of a rubber compound that looks like it will provide for soft landings if a game of king of the mountain takes place.

Josh Neyman, Park Project Specialist, reflects on the building of the park, “One of my favorite parts of the park is the the playground. The wood log scramble creates a more natural play experience and it’s the first playground in the city where we have used “Pour in Place” rubber fall surfacing. I really love the metal slide, another first in a very long time for Bellingham. I can tell you from experience, it is FAST! Our landscape architect Walker Macy did a fantastic job of maximizing a small space and creating a fun experience, while still keeping with the beautiful waterfront theme of the park. Strider Construction really went out of their way to make sure it all came together to become the downtown gem it is. Within the first hour of opening the playground, we had families flocking to enjoy it.”

Bellingham’s Butcher Family stopped by after work for an evening to play in the park. First, the mom and son tested the new slide.

Next up, dad and daughter! Weeeee!!

This girl is a go getter! She was adamant to do it all by herself. A cautious father stands nearby…

After many successful solo slides, she was getting the hang of it and climbing back up the soft blue embankment “all by herself”. Proud young girl right there.

The little one was intent on mastering the slide. And her smile got bigger with each lap. While she was conquering the slippery slope another family with two young boys came on the scene to give the kids seal of approval on the new park. While I didn’t interrupt their adventures to get a rating, it was evident that the park passed muster.

The Beach

Where there is now beach, it used to be an industrial bulkhead. A total of 165 feet of bulkhead were removed and 10,000 square feet of new beach was installed and 20,000 square feet of native plants were installed.

Each day, as I pass the park on my ride home, it’s great to see how quickly people have been drawn down to the beach at Waypoint Park.

Waypoint Park is a great addition to the Bellingham park inventory and is just the beginning in the development of our downtown waterfront. Come check it out for yourself and bring the family and friends.

Multimedia Highlights

Watch the Bellingham Herald Video – Waypoint Park Opens in Bellingham

Q13 Fox News Interview with Mayor Kelli Linville.
“This is the biggest redevelopment we’ve ever done. It has the potential to be the focus of downtown.”


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About the Author:

As the co-Executive Director of Recreation Northwest and the founder of the Bellingham Traverse, Todd promotes outdoor recreation and brings people together to enjoy, preserve and improve the places where we play. He enjoys biking, hiking, paddling, skiing and will try anything twice. Get connected at