Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

The SK Northwest saga is over: Property owner gives up on trail fight

Posted by on September 5th, 2008 at 4:50 pm

“We look forward to working with SK Northwest and the City as the development moves forward.”
— BTA’s metro-area advocate Emily Gardner

After a protracted legal battle that first came to light back in April of 2006, a Willamette riverfront property owner whose parcel lies in a key gap between two popular trails has relented and agreed to allow a trail to be built on their property.

The news comes from the BTA’s metro-area advocate Emily Gardner via the BTA Blog (emphasis mine):

“Earlier this year the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the City’s ordinance that requires a Greenway Trail on the property to be developed by SK Northwest. Following that decision, SK Northwest had the option to continue fighting the trail designation by taking the case to the Oregon Supreme Court…

Instead they have chosen to build the trail alignment on their property, and work with adjacent property owners and the City of Portland to make sure the ultimate plans provide a safe connection between the end of the Eastbank Esplanade and the start of the Springwater Corridor Trail.”

Gardner, and other staff and volunteers at the BTA, along with the City of Portland have been following this and fighting for the trail for over two years. According to Gardner, another “integral component” of this effort were several uber-volunteers. She credits Ben Schonberger of Winterbrook Planning, William Kabeisman of Garvey, Schubert and Barer, Rick Nys of Greenlight Engineering, and Christine Cook, attorney at law, “for their expertise and assistance in preparing testimony at key points along the way.”

This story marks the 19th I’ve written on this saga since my initial story Springwater development may nix trail improvement was published back on April 12, 2006. That story touched off significant outcry from many in the Portland community and it feels good to know that more than two years later, the passion and hard work of local advocates, professionals, and volunteers has made such an impact.

A fully connecting trail between OMSI and the Springwater Corridor Trail is still far from reality, but it just became much more possible.

Way to go Portland. And thanks to the BTA for staying on top of this throughout.


[For all the background, numerous appeals, and other drama in this saga, check out my archives.]

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  • K\'Tesh September 5, 2008 at 4:59 pm


    Finally! Get those trailbuilders out there!!! I can\’t wait!

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  • bahueh September 5, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    \’bout freakin\’ time…
    now I hope a good portion of their business dries up and they go away..

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  • Austin Ramsland September 5, 2008 at 5:00 pm


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  • Jim Labbe September 5, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Good news. SK will now receive the benefits of the Springwater on the Willamette Trail in the form of increased property values without having exempted themselves their rightful share of the costs.

    Thanks BTA for bird-dogging this one!

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  • Jessica Roberts September 5, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Such a relief…it seems like so many things AREN\’T moving forward lately, it feels good to get good news. Of course, it\’s still not built, but now I have some hope that we won\’t have to mix it up with trucks at some point in the forseeable future.

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  • michael downes September 5, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    As someone who regularly gets to play cement truck dodgems in that area armed only with a Bakfeits and my four and a half year old son I say \’ROCK & ROLL!\’. About freakin\’ time. Good job BTA and all at City Hall for a great use of tax payers dollars.

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  • CrankMyChain! September 5, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    WTG, Emily, BTA and everyone who worked on this!

    Years from now SK will wonder what they were ever thinking by opposing this trial.
    It will increase their connection to the community, the stature of their business, and the value of their property.

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  • wsbob September 5, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    As to SK\’s business, if it does turn out to be necessary to move semi\’s back and forth across the bike path going to and from the river, has there been any discussion about how the company will be able to do that safely?

    Will it require stop signs on either side of their property, stoplights, or will flaggers be required to hold up bike lane traffic each time the company needs to cross the path?

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  • Aaron September 5, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    Congrats to Emily, BTA, and the awesome volunteers. I\’m proud of your work

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  • brd September 5, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    This is great news…

    Thanks to Ben at Winterbrook for all his help…I know he put in some serious time on this issue.

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  • joe adamski September 5, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    I am so happy to hear this. IF SK had fought this to the bitter end and prevailed, pretty much all planning would prove moot if it didnt meet the whims//desires of commercial property owners.

    A properties development will trigger the alignments being secured. a property that is not redeveloped will go on as before. I suspect SK has figured a way to use te property under the current characteristics. Its easier than fighting.

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  • Klixi September 6, 2008 at 12:25 am

    Agree with Jessica (#5)

    Hopefully they can find a way to link the two paths ASAP so the Caruthers stop sign drama will go away, much to the delight of both truckers and riders. ;p

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  • Chris Sullivan September 6, 2008 at 8:00 am

    Very cool…I just rode this gap last week with my daughter and was wishing desperately for a path. This is great news.

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  • beth h September 6, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Whoop! Whoop!
    (Showing my age here)

    Great news — thanks to all who had a hand in bringing it about.

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  • Tom September 6, 2008 at 8:32 am

    This is great for users of the trail. Does anybody know what will happen with the Ross Island concrete factory? The maps show the trail going straight through it. I couldn\’t find anything online that talks about that aspect of the connection.

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  • Deborah September 6, 2008 at 11:44 am

    ditto on the thanks to all! This connection will be wonderful.

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  • chris September 7, 2008 at 1:46 am

    I wonder why they gave up? Maybe fear of imminent domain? Basic economics? Anyways, yay peeps. I hope it is the best thing ever.

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  • Opus the Poet September 7, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    I think eminent domain was the next step. I know the local Gov\’t has no problem with that every time they want to widen the street here in Dallas County TX.

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  • Ethan September 7, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Like Jonathan says, it\’s far from over. The adjacent Already developed) parcel is owned by the same guy, and he was often cited by SK NW\’s owner as the main reason why the trail was being opposed.

    On a darker note, this is still very bad news for folks who love the river. SK plans to sell (possibly rent) and perform maintenance on personal watercraft at this location, right at the foot of Ross Island. Your idyllic paddle may now be impossible due to the whine of Jet Skis.

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  • Joe Rowe September 8, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Is this at all related to the giant boat house proposed down by Ross Island area of the East shore of the Willamette river? The six story boathouse looks like a massive ugly playground for boats that cause a lot of pollution and are not well regulated. I don\’t want a boats v. bikes thing to grow, but it looks like the city and county will sell out to get anything built in the name of progress.

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  • GLV September 8, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Tom # 15: \”Does anybody know what will happen with the Ross Island concrete factory?\”

    It will likely continue to operate exactly as it does now, with no trail, for the next 30 years.

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  • Minister September 8, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Ha Ha SK. Have fun paying your attorneys!

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  • Sarah O September 14, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    I\’d like to think that the idea of bettering your entire community at the expense of your own self-serving vision was what finally broke the SK camel\’s back, but I\’m glad the years of pressure and legal action paid off regardless. We got our way, let\’s be gracious winners and keep moving forward.

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  • PWC1 April 10, 2009 at 11:52 am

    I have been reading through these posts and have seen some comments about the “whine” of jetski’s. First of all “jetski” is a brand not carried by SK. Secondly, They don’t whine. These are ultra clean Four stroke watercraft that put out less emissions than most of your pissing and moaning cars and trucks. You should count your blessings and be glad that SK carries all four stroke watercraft. Two strokes whine. I don’t own a personal watercraft but have rented them from SK and was impressed with how quiet they were. A car driving down your street makes more noise. Be glad that the fight is over and stop bitching about it.

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  • PWC1 April 10, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    P.S. Bike riders do tend to think they own the road. Why is that? So what if it requires effort to get your bike back up to speed. It requires effort for me to work and earn the money required to pay for the gas it requires for me to re-accelerate. I obviously have more requirements so don’t dart out!

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  • PD June 16, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    This whole mess is the City’s fault. Instead of careful planning for trails, they just grab the property whenever they need to. That site sat vacant long before SK agreed to buy it, so why didn’t the City perfect some sort of encumbrance then?

    “The City with Perks” has all us in the biking community fooled into thinking they are on their side. What they really do is use us to acheive their planning objectives while boinking underagers in restrooms at City Hall.

    Poor SK. They are trying to build a building and create jobs in this city (gasp!), and the City was successful in delaying that effort for two years. Be careful SK, now that they have you, they’ll tax you until you choke so they can build stadiums in Lents….out in Lents? How “green” is that?

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