Portland's newest beach is still a work in progress

PORTLAND, Ore. Lucy, 5, and her big sister Eleanor, 8, swam for the very first time in the water at Portland's newest beach along the Willamette River.

The beach, known as Poet's Beach, is under the Marquam Bridge only a few blocks from downtown.

It officially opened this week after months of volunteer work leading up to building an access path, along with removing debris, trash and boulders from the bank of soft sand already there.

"The beach has really great sand, not a lot of rocks, really warm water, and it doesn't get deep for a while," said Jessica Corell, who walked to the beach with her daughters. "It's great for your kids."

It's also still very much a work-in-progress.

When Jessica and her kids got to the beach on Saturday morning, they saw people sleeping in homeless camps.

"There were some people that slept here overnight. The police came. They did move on," she said.

We found pillows, blankets and personal belongings tucked away in the bushes.

We also found waste and garbage scattered on the sand and rocky beach, including discarded fireworks containers, an empty bottle of alcohol and other various littered objects.

A viewer sent us a news tip asking what is being done to clean up the area.

A spokesman for Portland Parks and Recreation said it was not patrolling the beach.

The group that helped build the beach's path, the Human Access Project, said it hoped to someday arrange volunteers to clean trash, although now it encourages people using the beach to also pitch in by picking up junk themselves.

"With more people coming out here with their families, that will be discouraged naturally," said Jessica, who plans to bring her daughters back for a swim again sometime.