The Oak Harbor Clean Water Facility, a project GreenWorks participated in, has been named Project of the Year by the Washington State American Public Works Association (APWA). “This project is a great example of how to leverage large public infrastructure projects for multiple benefits,” says Gill Williams, principal at GreenWorks.
“The key here is advancement in wastewater treatment technology that allows communities to place these facilities in places that, before now, were out of bounds.”
Situated on the shores of Oak Harbor, on Washington’s Whidbey Island, the facility integrates into 28-acre Windjammer Park. “In the past, wastewater treatment plants wouldn’t be built in parks or close to homes for obvious reasons like offensive odors. The Oak Harbor plant is different, it’s a state-of-the-art facility, located in a prime location — a public park in the center of Oak Harbor.”
The planting and hardscape of the facility reflects its coastal setting, with rolling dunes of coastal grasses and perimeter sidewalks emulating local wooden docks. Parts of the facility are exposed to the public, offering opportunities for interpretation along the parks two main axis.
“We were able to leverage this public infrastructure investment by making it integral to the park. Instead of being separate facilities, the treatment plant and the park complement each other. Unlike in the past, we’re not trying to hide the facility or locate it in a marginalized neighborhood. Due to advances in technology, you could potentially locate a plant like this in a dense area and people wouldn’t know it’s there. These plants don’t need open aeration ponds and other bad smelling infrastructure to do the job anymore. Many of those processes are now done internally. This means we can now blend the architecture into the surroundings.”
GreenWorks teamed up with Carollo Engineers and MWA Architects and played an integral role by preparing the plan to integrate the wastewater treatment facility into Windjammer Park. We worked closely with the City of Oak Harbor and its Community Advisory Group to develop a plan to be implemented over time. The plan, now adopted by the city council, includes renovation of a popular swimming lagoon, improved pedestrian walking trails, reconfigured parking lots, a new events plaza, a splash park outside the facility, a performance pavilion, two new kitchens, new playgrounds, and multi-use fields.
“This project is a great example of how to leverage large public infrastructure for multiple benefits.”