Port Opens: Making good on the State of Washington Public Ports Act, the people of Ridgefield officially form the port district.
A Big Cleanup: The $90 million cleanup of the 42-acre Ridgefield Waterfront began.
Land Growth: The district grows by 57 square miles.
Discovery Ridge Named: The port established an innovative new home for businesses.
In 1911, a historic event that would shape the future of Washington State residents occurred in Ridgefield. The State of Washington Public Ports Act was put into effect, allowing residents of an area to form a port district and elect their own commissioners to govern it. While the Act remained on the books, it took another 29 years before area residents saw the potential this Act afforded them and formed the Port of Ridgefield.
The original and continued vision of the port was to increase economic development within the City of Ridgefield and surrounding areas, promoting values of freedom and prosperity to all who live there. The first elected commissioners to the Port of Ridgefield were H.C. Cornell, E.F. McCune, and J.R. Hicks, all of whom served in this role until 1952 and were the first to govern this visionary district.
In order to spread the mission of the port, a vote was taken in 1980 to enlarge the district, increasing it by 57 square miles (36,480 acres) of land. Interstate 5 split this expanded region, and the space surrounding I-5 soon developed into The Discovery Corridor, a focus of industrial development.
In 1984, the port further extended its reach through the purchase of a 78-acre parcel of land near the I-5/Ridgefield junction, naming it the Ridgefield Industrial Park. Since that time, the port has increased to include 11 thriving businesses and provides 800 jobs for district citizens.
It appears the port did not actively develop land or facilities during World War II. In 1956, however, the Ridgefield Veneer Company plant opened on 13 acres leased from the port and adjoining land that it purchased. By 1957, the town’s last shingle mill had closed and the veneer plant offered the only industrial employment in the area.
Ridgefield Veneer was joined in 1963 by Pacific Wood Treating. A laudatory article in The Oregonian reported the newly established Pacific Wood Treating plant and noted that, “Two years ago this site was a virtual wasteland. Now all the prime industrial property is gone”.
Pacific Wood Treating Corporation treated lumber for industrial use. In the 1970s the plant would also pressure-treat Douglas fir timbers that would be used by another Niedermeyer-Martin company, TimberForm, to create the wooden playground structures that would become ubiquitous in American public parks and backyards. The chemicals used on the lumber would have significant environmental consequences.
In the 1980s, Pacific Wood Treating, faced difficulties with Department of Ecology rules for water protection. The outfall from the plant served as a conduit for toxic chemicals, Environmental regulations required that the company prevent the pollution before their permits would be renewed.
A complete history of the Port of Ridgefield can be found by clicking here.
In 1998, the Port Commission named Brent Grening to the position of executive director (now chief executive officer). His time in office further developed the region and made it what it is today. In 2004, Grening oversaw the port’s purchase of 75 acres of land northeast of the I-5/Ridgefield junction. His plan involved developing this property as part of the Discovery Corridor, a new home for businesses promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. However, the process of entitlement proved long and complex, and it wasn’t until 2007 that Discovery Point was named.
At that time, Southwest Washington Health Systems purchased Discovery Point as an addition to their medical campus. Now that Southwest has merged with PeaceHealth, they are known as PeaceHealth Southwest, and have not yet announced their plans for the complex.