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Riverfront land purchase seen as "new era" for future trail

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on December 19th, 2008 at 11:20 am

The University of Portland has just acquired the property outlined in yellow. Supporters of a transportation trail along the river see this as a major step forward.
(Image courtesy U of P)

Advocates for the North Willamette Greenway Trail that will someday go from the Eastbank Esplanade at the Steel Bridge to Kelly Point Park north of St. Johns, are celebrating a key land purchase they say will bring in a "new era in planning" for the trail.

"This land will give the University extraordinary opportunities that include adding new athletic fields, buildings, parking and playing spaces."
-- U of P president Rev. E. William Beauchamp

Yesterday, the University of Portland closed on a $6 million deal to purchase 35 acres of property along the Willamette River adjacent to its campus. The deal ends five years of negotiations with the land's previous owner, Triangle Park, LLC.

In a press release about the sale that was sent out to the University Park Neighborhood Association yesterday, University president, Rev. E. William Beauchamp said, "This land will give the University extraordinary opportunities that include adding new athletic fields, buildings, parking and playing spaces."

Mini Bike Winter IV - Chariot Wars
The land -- which includes this
abandoned structure -- will
undergo clean-up and a multi-year
planning process.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Whether those "playing spaces" include the type of facility that Greenway Trail backers hope for, remains to be seen.

Scott Mizee, a core member of non-profit npGreenway (the trail's main citizen support group), is very excited about the news.

"This purchase moves the trail forward because that property has been in limbo for two years now," he told me via telephone this morning. Mizee says now the university can begin clean-up efforts and go head with a what's expected to be a two-year master planning effort. "Part of that plan," Mizee says, "hopefully includes the trail."

Mini Bike Winter IV - Chariot Wars
This photo shows the railbed and
undeveloped trail just south of
the newly acquired property.
Mt. Hood is in the background.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Mizee says U of P has expressed support for the trail in past meetings. Trail backers want the facility to be a minimum 12-foot wide, "surface transportation trail". Mizee hopes that through the planning process, their vision for the trail matches up with U of P's vision.

"We're a bit concerned that they might have a lower-grade trail in mind, like a low-impact walking trail...but there will be opportunity now in the planning process to get all these issues out onto the table," says Mizee.

Concerns aside, Mizee says this news represents a "new phase of planning" and, "a real opportunity to get something built."

Members of npGreenway have already met with U of P officials to discuss how the planning process will move forward from here.

-- For more about the Willamette River Greenway Trail, see npGreenway.org.

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Comments
  • RyNO Dan December 19, 2008 at 11:41 am

    SuperFUN !!

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) December 19, 2008 at 11:47 am

    umm yeah.. about the Superfun site Dan. sources say there will be a fence up around the property within a month.

    sort of a bummer.

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  • gabriel amadeus December 19, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    uh-oh...

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  • Tony P December 19, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    As soon as I started reading this I figured it meant that the existing "access" would disappear. Too bad since it's a great way to traverse the area on a mtb. There's a lot of land down there, sure would be nice to see a little ribbon of singletrack incorporated into the plan.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) December 19, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    "sure would be nice to see a little ribbon of singletrack incorporated into the plan."

    agreed. hopefully, mountain bike advocates realize this and make sure they're at the table during the planning process.

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  • nerower15 December 19, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Does this mean that the building is going to be torn down? That's an old power plant (from 1920's...) and used by the local community as an indoor skating area.

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  • Red Hippie December 19, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Tony P,

    To the north of the railroad is some neat single track. I and many others, use this as a app. 1 mile pump track for cyclocross. The property is owned by metro and would be a much better candidate for single track.

    Check it out

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  • Captured Shadow December 19, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Hope they are not serious about putting buildings on that land. It is in frequent flood zone. Sports fields, community gardens, even parking would be a better use.

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  • BURR December 19, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    there already is a fence around this property, albeit a very porous one.

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  • Dana December 19, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    I went to the University of Portland and frequently went down to Triangle Park before and after I graduated.

    From what I know while I went there (07 Alum), they are planning on moving several of the sports facilities, such as the baseball field and soccer practice fields, and the campus facilities building. I do not believe they are moving any classroom/office building down there nor putting any dorms.

    Unless they are planning on doing a historical building remodel, I have a hard time seeing them keep the existing building with the smoke stack or the other buildings by the river.

    As for the bike path, they would need to make it kind of out of the way to avoid having pedestrians always crossing it, creating a hazard for cyclists moving 15+ mph.

    As for a single track course or bike park... quit dreaming. The University would never do this, which is unfortunate.

    This is going to be an extension of the UP campus, and they are not going to have bikes on the top of their agenda. For people advocating any bike facilities, I recommend attending every meeting possible and fighting for what is deperately needed in the area... a bike corridor into downtown.

    I am just not very optimistic about the school...

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  • peejay December 19, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    That building saw a lot of late night bike fun...

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  • SkidMark December 19, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    That building has Portland's only indoor bike/skate ramps. I hope it doesn't get torn down. it's also the only place where graffiti artists (not taggers) can go and put up murals without fear of being arrested.

    And it's a hazardous waste site.

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  • jonny christmas December 19, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    are you talking about DOS?

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  • brian December 19, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    As Butthead says, "the more things change, the more they suck".

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  • mark December 20, 2008 at 12:16 am

    damn! I hate to see this fun spot disappear! this is all put up as a super nice "wont this be better for everyone" type of thing and all I'm thinking is, 'no, this is one of the coolest spots in town!'

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  • sysfail December 20, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Yeah bummer, the SuperFun site will be missed if they do take it down:(

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  • jim December 20, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Everytime I see that picture (map) with the outline around it- it looks like a rhino

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