This morning I spoke with Wayne Kingsley, the owner on record of the land being purchased by SK Northwest. Wayne is a well-known local businessman and president of American Waterways, Inc. owner and operator of the Portland Spirit cruise ship that runs on the Willamette.
While Kingsley can’t speak for SK Northwest (they haven’t returned my call), he was able to illustrate for me the concerns he has for allowing a recreational trail to go through the property.
First of all, as noted by the BTA‘s Evan Manvel in this comment, there is no official existing easement across this property. What exists is a loosely drawn recreational trail designation by the City that has no legal footing. According to Kingsley what usually happens in cases like this is that the City negotiates something from the developer to get the trail, although the developer is in no way obligated to allow the trail to be built. His words were that the City would try to “extract the trail” from the transaction.
If this is true, than I guess we just have to hope that SK Northwest wants work with the City to make the trail happen.
Besides the easement technicality, Kingsley said his main concerns with a recreational trail are economics and security.
Looking at the lot to be developed (which he said has been designated as “shovel-ready” by the City in order to develop the industrial sector), Kingsley estimated that building an adequate recreational trail would effectively take away 1/4 of the usable land (5,000 square feet or approx. $100,000). So in his mind, since there’s no existing legal obligation for the trail, this would be like asking SK Northwest to “donate $100,000 to the public to put a trail on their property.”
So far, It doesn’t sound like SK Northwest is willing to do this.
Kingsley also brought up security as a reason against any future trail. At the moment, the adjacent property (owned by Portland Spirit) falls under federal regulations as part of the post 9/11 Maritime Transportation Security Act. As such, according to Kingsley, running a public trail facility through this property would, “make it difficult to secure the property boundary.”
At the end of our conversation Kingsley made the point that while this is very important to trail users, there are many Portlanders who would also appreciate a conveniently located place to
test ride and purchase personal watercraft access the services of SK Northwest.
I can see both sides. While I am passionate that public greenways should have priority over commercial businesses that sell gas-guzzling, polluting machines, I also realize that business is business and people have a right to do whatever they want with their private property.
I guess the ball is in SK Northwest’s court and all we can do is try and convince them to see the light.