The Astoria Nordic Heritage Park has surpassed $1 million in funding through mostly individual donations, with $450,000 left to raise before construction begins.
The Astoria Scandinavian Heritage Association has been working since 2015 to build a park to honor the impact of Scandinavian immigrants to the North Coast. Astoria has approved the plans and provided a site at Peoples Park along Marine Drive and the Astoria Riverwalk.
Backers hope to begin construction in the fall.
Conceptual drawings of the Nordic park feature a large midsummer pole in the middle of a plaza surrounded by trees and shrubbery. Five granite slabs and flagpoles represent Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. An archway leads to a series of interpretive panels explaining the heritage of Scandinavians in the region.
Judi Lampi, the chairwoman of the park committee, said more than 70% of donations have come from individuals. The park has also received several grants, including $27,000 from the Oregon Cultural Trust to install interpretive panels and $2,000 to hire a fundraising consultant.
“A lot of grants got diverted for COVID relief, and so hopefully when life hopefully gets back to normal, then we can start looking for some other grants. But individual donors are really what have come through for us.”
Janet Bowler, the vice chairwoman of the park committee, said the association has reached out to locals with Scandinavian heritage, along with their family and friends. The association has also reached out to the embassies of Scandinavia, along with Scandinavian companies such as Norwegian Cruise Line, with ships operating in the Columbia River, albeit with no response, Bowler said.
“We’re trying every place we can, because we’ve asked most of the locals three to five times already,” she said. “So we realize to finish the project, we’ll need to seek new donors.”
“Now that we’re so close to the end, we hope that the general community will help too,” Bowler said. “Because the park is for all Astorians, not just the Nordic community. It’s going to be a real asset for everybody.”