Entiat Rocks

Riverfront development, a community affair.

by Susan Driver

The City of Entiat, nestled at the confluence of the Entiat and Columbia Rivers, has long distinguished itself by its proximity to water. When it was originally settled by the Columbia River Chinook Indian tribe in the 1800s, it was called “Enteatqua,” meaning “Rapid Water.” In the first half of the twentieth century, Entiat’s confluence of rivers made it a center of trade. Today, Entiat lies near the Chelan County Public Utility District’s Rocky Reach Dam, which has created Lake Entiat, a popular recreation spot.

In addition to its watery sense of place, Entiat is also known for its perseverance, even through difficult times, what the locals like to call “Entiattiude.” Entiattitude is built into the town's history: Entiat had to completely rebuild itself three times – twice due to fires, and once when the Rocky Reach Dam forced the town to relocate.

Today, Entiat continues to make decisions with its long-held perseverance and river identity in mind: in the middle of an economic recession, the Entiat community decided to improve their waterfront.

On March 25, 2008, 80 Entiat Valley citizens met to discuss goals and visions for their area, and 60 citizens met for a follow-up meeting on June 14, 2008. The collaborative community planning process continued over the next two years, culminating in a formal Waterfront Master Plan; Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Plan; and a US 97A Corridor Plan. The vision for the tourist-commercial waterfront development includes public access to the water, wildlife viewing areas, a pedestrian and bicycle trail, shops, hotels, restaurants, and a full-service marina.

The Entiat Riverfront Development plan has relied on coordinated efforts between many community partners. The Planning Commission has been working with the City Council, Park Board, Tree Board, Museum, Chamber of Commerce, PUD, and development interests to ensure that all community perspectives are included in the creation of the waterfront vision. The City is also in ongoing coordination with several state and federal regulatory agencies.

Gaining funding for the Waterfront Project has also been collaborative. The project has received funding from the Port of Chelan County, the State’s Community Economic Revitalization Board, Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account, Boating Facilities Program, and Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. In-kind funding from a local business owner and partner funds from the North Central Washington Economic Development District have also supplemented City efforts.

Design and permitting for the first phase of the waterfront development was completed in the fall of 2012. Shoreline restoration and plantings will begin in the spring of 2013. Engineering and permitting for the marina facility has been funded, and the project is underway.

The City of Entiat is now at an important crossroads. On the verge of an economic boom if everything is handled correctly, the City Council is tasked with deciding how to develop a 2013 budget that will address any shortfalls in project funding, and whether to take a step of faith and invest reserves toward building for the future.

While other cities scream about recession, the City of Entiat’s progress has been impressive. The Entiat community and City Council have shown how to be proactive and go after their dreams rather than sit back and wait until everything gets better. They have practiced Entiattitude, and they have come far.