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SK Northwest tries again for Springwater development

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 12th, 2007 at 11:34 am

Proposed development area.
Click to enlarge graphic

SK Northwest, a Portland-based retailer of jet-skis and personal watercraft, has submitted another proposal to develop a key parcel of Willamette riverfront land.

The proposal was submitted to the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) on March 1st and once again, it does not include plans for a trail.

You might recall the long and winding saga of this company's attempts to develop land on the Willamette riverfront just south of OMSI. I've covered the story extensively since breaking the news almost one year ago.

SK's initial proposal was denied by the city of Portland, in large part because so many of you wrote in to express your concern and opposition.

The current gap between the southern terminus of the Eastbank Esplanade and the start of the Springwater Corridor trail is not an acceptable long-term option. It winds through heavy industrial land, that includes cement trucks from the busy Ross Island Cement company.

Backers of this proposal claim that even if they included a trail, it wouldn't go anywhere because of a gap that would remain on both sides of them. Indeed, the Portland Spirit property to the north (which has the same owner as the parcel in question, Wayne Kingsley) and the Ross Island Cement Company to the south pose serious problems for a seamless riverfront trail.

However that's not stopping businessman Derek Hanna. He's developing a parcel directly adjacent to the SK Northwest lot and he has worked closely with community groups and has some exciting plans for a trail through his property and along the river.

BTA Executive Director Evan Manvel has met with Hanna and posted about it on the BTA Blog.

Now, we need to let the city of Portand know that SK Northwest should cooperate with the community in a similar fashion.

The current detour around this parcel (and
another one with the same owner) is substandard.

The parcel of land in question sits smack dab in the middle of one of, if not the most heavily ridden (and currently one of the most inconvenient and dangerous) trail segments in the city.

If you would like to weigh in on this application, the public comment period ends March 22nd.

Letters should be directed to Kate Green at the Bureau of Development Services, and CC'd to Randy Leonard (the Commissioner in charge of BDS).

Personal stories of how this development might impact our community should be mailed to:

    City of Portland
    Bureau of Development Services
    ATTN: Kate Green
    RE: Case File Number, LU 06-171821

    1900 SW Fourth Ave. Suite 5000
    Portland, Oregon 97201

You can also email Kate Green and Commissioner Leonard. To make it easier, I've made this handy mailto link that fills everything in for you.

Read the full proposal in PDF form here.

The BTA is watching this case closely and from a comment left on their blog, it seems Shawn Karambelas (the "SK" in SK Northwest) might attend the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood meeting this Thursday (3/15) next Tuesday (3/20).

A decision on this proposal will be made on March 29th.

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Comments
  • Burr March 12, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    HAND meetings are usually on the third Tuesday, that would be March 20, not March 15.

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  • Richard S March 12, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    Here we go again!

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  • Cecil March 12, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    The next HAND Board meeting is indeed March 20 at 6:30 - the meetings are held at St. Philip Neri Church in the St. Paul classroom.

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  • Matt P. March 12, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Yeppers - time to take some photographs and write letters with pretty pictures. It's a shame that the property owner(s) don't want to work with the community - it would likely be cheaper for Mr. Kingsley and Mr. Karambalas to find a compromise solution than to fight this out in court with the city, the neighborhood, the county, and whoever else might be / get involved.

    Has anyone notified the river users yet?
    (presumably they already know, but it would be good to check)

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  • Richard S March 12, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    What do you think of the chances of getting Ross Island Cement on board. They've got to hate having to dodge bicycles with their trucks.

    Perhaps a good approach would be to use our allies in the business community (businessman Derek Hanna, perhaps Ross Island Cement, others in the area) plus community organizations to forge a general solution to the problem, and then try to get SK on board to support that. We can't keep fighting a defensive action here - we need to take the initiative.

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  • Ethan March 12, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    I have said before and I will say again. The way to stop this stupidity once and for all is to place a speed limit on a healthy portion of the Willamette through downtown. Nobody is going to want to putt putt along on a Jet Ski all the way through the city to get somewhere where they can "open it up".

    Also, banning 2-stroke engines on the river through the city would put the crimp on most of the personal watercraft in question. It should be noted that one of the stated "need" for this supposed "maintenance facility" is a place to test watercraft after repairs. In essence SK wants clean water to plop them into so they can rev them up and spew motor oil and other particulates into our river, which was already a SuperFund site, last time I checked.

    Merely confining the offensive to the zoning requirments may ultimately be a poor option, given current Oregon law. I am quite sure that SK's legal counsel figures their ace in the hole is being able to force the city to pay for "lost value" if they are denied approval in the end. This is a reasonable bet on their part, if they can address all the legitimate concerns the city has thrown in their path, they will have a strong case for compensation. Thus the best way to blunt the plan is to shift the paying field on public property, namely the river.

    A little advice from Sun Tzu:
    "In all fighting, the direct method may be used
    for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory."

    If they are not willing to contribute to the common good, they should not be allowed to pollute common resources.

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  • Tom March 12, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    I am new at this but ... why doesn't the city just condem the land necessary for the trail? That way we get the trail and the owner gets paid. Then we don't have to go through all this intrigue. Why does he have to "donate" it?

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  • Anne March 12, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Matt P. - yep, the rowing clubs in the Portland Boathouse are aware. I'd be Riverkeeper is also.

    Ethan - unfortunately, because of commercial use, it would be nearly impossible to speed-limit the entire river. The Marine Board has stringent requirements for proof that one is needed. That said, there is movement to speed-limit the Holgate Slough (aka the east channel behind Ross Island), given the future uses of the island as a refuge, the Oaks Bottom Refuge, the bike/ped trail and other "quiet" uses in the area. The rowers and kayakers are also seeking sanctuary from wakes and speed fiends anticipated to start showing off in front of the new SoWa condos.

    Unfortunately, I recall that in the appeal, the Hearings Examiner sided with the applicant on the trail issue...so it's gonna be an uphill fight on that one.

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  • Dean March 12, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    Even if the land was accessible for the Springwater trail, how would the trail be defined from the "proposed lot for development" site to the Portland Opera?

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  • trike March 12, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    there is a speed limit and there is a curtisy; not that power boaters adhere to it.

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  • sh March 12, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    Oh geez, these people.

    Thanks again Jonathon for the valuable service of keeping us posted on this stuff (and congrats on that Toeclips - you so definitely deserve it!). The first time SK launched this proposal, the arrogance and disingenuousness displayed was merely irritating. This time it makes my blood boil; instantly, I hate them (but you know, in an abstract way).

    Let's hope that the shining star that is Portland's bike and advocacy community can once again bottom out this retailer of jet skis and personal watercraft's proposal. Grrr.

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  • Joe March 12, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    Am I missing something? The applicant's plans say "the proposal retains the full greenway setback, there will be a place for the City to build the trail if it decides to dedicate the resources in the future." It's questionable for the city to ask the developer to dedicate the land based on transportation impacts of the proposed development given legal precedent set by the US Supreme Court (Dolan v. City of Tigard). There's probably some room for improvement such as the design of the building (but what can you expect in a heavy industrial zone?)..

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  • Jim Labbe March 14, 2007 at 7:01 am

    The current Willamette Greenway trail regulations were adopted prior to Dolan vs. City of Tigard.

    The City is currently updating the Willamette Greenway standards (for trails as well as other goals such as water quality and habitat protection and enhancement) through the River Plan process. Dolan vs. Tigard is on of many issues.

    The Bureau of Planning just released a report "Developing the River Plan/North Reach: A Summary of Willamette Greenway Plan Implementation Issues and Solutions" for public review (comments due March 16th). The report summarizes the key issues and potential solutions in revising greenway standards:

    http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=147896

    Those concerned about ensuring future provision of the Willamette Greenway Trail, should get involved in this process.

    The bearing of Dolan vs. the City of Tigard on future challenges to trail standards may depend on how well the City coordinates trail planning with the City’s transportation plans and regulations and thereby establishing nexus that makes bike-ped trail development part of a plan for fostering a more diverse and balanced transportation system in the City of Portland.

    Jim

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  • [...] See this great post on BikePortland.org which goes into further detail about the issues playing out on the SE Willamette shoreline here in Portland.

    It would be a good idea for you to read through the comments if you are at all interested in this issue--and I trust you are if you came to the npGREENWAY website. [...]

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  • Tom W. March 14, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    I work public construction projects when I can get on because they pay a lot better than other jobs. I am working a job near Caruthers and like it cause I can bike there. That's why I'm interested in this trail thing.

    I met a boss from the city the other day and asked him about this SK thing and the trail. He told me the city always knew about this trail case Tigard versus Donnan ? and that they would lose if someone ever went to court about it. He said they ran a bluff all these years and thats how we got as much trail as we have now. Developers don't like to take the time to fight the city because delay costs money. So they donate the land to get the city off their backs. If they don't just hand it over the city could always get extra picky about their permits and cause them all sorts of trouble. Being smart the developers play along.

    He said this hearings guy who botched up the last sk permit works for the city and he didn't rule the way they wanted. They are all mad at him and let him know it.

    The good news is its not over and they still have some ways to get SK.

    Don't get discouraged. These city guys are good poker players and could still get the trail through like they have always done. He said this Kate person is real good at putting them thru the ringer and getting what she wants.

    Sounds encouraging to me.

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  • Bill March 20, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    Can we please connect this better to Division/Clinton street? It's such a pain in the ass to bike from my house, down a gravel path with mean, nasty signs from the railroad that they're going to throw me in jail if I trespass on their property, then up some streets under construction and against traffic - all without any signage.

    This needs to be fixed and some recommended route put in place.

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  • David March 27, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    Anyone thought about picketing SK Northwest on Fridays and Saturdays? Their hours at their Sandy office are from 10am until 7pm. A good portion of their customer base is probably comprised of outdoor enthusiasts who would be very sympathetic to our concerns. Before I heard about this, I even considered renting a snowmobile and a Segway from them.

    I'm subscribed to this thread, so if you are interested in picketing, please post below.

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