(Photos © J. Maus)
There’s a new piece of paved trail along the east side of the Willamette River between the end of the Esplanade and the beginning of the Springwater Corridor Trail. Unfortunately, the new trail is an island, separated from the existing gap by lots of both sides of it.
The trail was built by the owners of SK Northwest, a major retailer of personal watercrafts and ATVs. Back in 2006, SK Northwest filed for a permit to build on the property at 240 SE Division. Even though there was an existing trail easement along the river through their property, SK Northwest didn’t plan to build it.
The company’s reluctance to build the trail set off major alarms in the community. The issue weaved its way through the Land Use Board of Appeals process, and thanks to significant community outcry, the City denied SK Northwest’s permit. After several appeals that were denied by the City, SK Northwest — facing a trip to the Oregon Supreme Court — ultimately relented in August 2009 and re-filed their permit with a promise to build the trail.
After getting a tip from a reader that their new retail building was nearly complete, I went and checked out the property yesterday.
Sure enough, just beyond SK Northwest’s new parking lot, there’s a new piece of trail…
However, you should contain your excitement, because there’s still a gap between this trail and the southern terminus of the Eastbank Esplanade as well as a gap to the south at Ross Island Sand & Gravel.
That lot to the north is owned by Wayne Kingsley of the Portland Spirit. Mr. Kingsley and Dan Yates, who handles transportation issues for the Central Eastside Industrial Council, have both made it clear that they have no intention of allowing the trail to cross the property. In an interview with Kingsley in April 2006, he cited economic and security concerns as justification for his position.
The new construction at this location isn’t going unnoticed by the neighborhood. The Hosford-Abernethy Neighborhood Association had the issue on their meeting agenda Tuesday night. Land Use Chair Joanne Stainbrook is already looking into the conditions of the company’s development permit to, “follow up on the process and make sure they are fulfilling the original committments.”
In our last report on this story in December 2009, Elly Blue reported that Mr. Yates cites federal maritime security regulations that prevent him from building a publicly accessible trail.
Kurt Krueger with the Portland Bureau of Transportation confirmed that SK Northwest had fulfilled it’s trail building obligation. “We are getting one of the remaining pieces of this project,” he said, “But it won’t make the connection until we see the redevelopment or a City project that moves forward to connect across the Portland Spirit property.”
The conditions of SK Northwest’s permit mandate that this new trail be publicly accessible 24/7. While you can’t actually take it anywhere, you can still ride on it. Go check it out next time you’re in the neighborhood.
CORRECTION: This story was originally published with the wrong name for Wayne Kingsley. I had it as Wayne Krieger. I regret the error and apologize for any confusion.