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Remember the ‘acid ball’ as art? Here’s when you might see it at a new waterfront park

This conceptual drawing for “Waypoint” by Mutuus Studio shows how the acid accumulator from the former Georgia-Pacific pulp and paper mill will be transformed for use in a new waterfront park, also named Waypoint.
This conceptual drawing for “Waypoint” by Mutuus Studio shows how the acid accumulator from the former Georgia-Pacific pulp and paper mill will be transformed for use in a new waterfront park, also named Waypoint. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

A new beach, playground, waterfront trail and giant piece of outdoor art will be part of the city’s newest waterfront park when it opens to the public next spring.

Construction of what has been named Waypoint Park, located next to the Central Avenue Pier that’s now under renovation, will begin in late November or early December.

The City Council this week approved a $2.04 million contract with Strider Construction to build the 1-acre park, which will be next to the Granary Building on Bellingham’s waterfront.

The pier, which will connect to the park, is being turned into a promenade for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The pier is expected to open to the public by the end of November. It will have hand railings and new seating, and provide a place for people to watch the park being built, according to Leslie Bryson, Bellingham Parks and Recreation director.

As for the art, that comes by way of an industrial artifact from the closed Georgia-Pacific pulp and paper mill on the waterfront. An old piece of equipment known as the “acid ball” is being turned into a new beacon.

About 30 feet in diameter, the round steel tank stored acid that helped break down wood chips at the mill. It will be moved to the new park and coated with luminescent glass beads to create a glowing beacon at night.

The concept creator was Mutuus Studio of Burien.

When completed, the park and pier will provide access to an area of the waterfront that has long been closed off to the public, as a pulp and tissue mill has operated in the area going back to 1926.

Bryson expected Waypoint to be as popular as Boulevard Park, another site that provides people access to the water.

Combined, the park and pier work will cost about $3.5 million.

Funding comes from a Washington State Department of Commerce Brownfield Grant, real estate taxes, park impact fees and Greenways III, a property tax levy voters approved in 2006 to pay for parks and other green spaces.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea

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