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New riverside project raises questions about linking east-bank paths

Posted by on January 22nd, 2014 at 9:37 am

The unlabeled parcel, between SK
Northwest and Ross Island Sand and Gravel,
is the site of a new development proposal.
(Graphic: BikePortland)

A proposed service shop and event space for high-end racecars and motorcycles is the latest puzzle piece in the awkward connection between Southeast Portland’s two riverfront bike paths.

As reported last week by the Daily Journal of Commerce, Portland-based Vollgas Motorwerks is planning to redevelop one of the four parcels that currently sit between the southern end of the Eastbank Esplanade and the northern end of the Springwater Corridor, along the Willamette River near downtown.

City plans require any development of the parcel to include a paved pathway that could one day be part of an off-road link between the two paths. After years of legal battle, the watercraft and RV retailer SK Northwest built a similar orphan path in 2009, immediately north of the Vollgas Motorworks property.

However, the northernmost and southernmost landowners of this quartet, the Portland Spirit cruise company and Ross Island Sand and Gravel respectively, both have thriving operations and no active plans to sell or redevelop.

Esplanade Gap-3-2

Where the Eastbank Esplanade ends.

Vollgas Motorworks’ owner and founder, Haithem Toulan, said in an interview Tuesday that he’d be happy to leave room for such a path but doesn’t see the point of paving it until his neighbors do, too.

“Right now, it makes no sense building another orphan, because it just seems to be a waste of money for going nowhere,” Toulan said.

Toulan, who also happens to be the nephew of the late Portland State University planners Nohad and Dirce Toulan, said he’d like to find a different way to give Springwater Corridor users access to the riverside land on his property. He’s waiting for a chance to discuss the options with the city.

“We’re not going to remove the option of doing something across the property,” Toulan said. “We leave within our plan the possibility of the greenway path [between the two corridors] being built at a later date.”

Toulan said he could imagine a deal whereby he and any future owners of the property would be obligated to develop the path once a full connection is possible.

“Right now all I know is that we have to build the path from SK Northwest to the edge of my property, which dead-ends at the water,” Toulan said.

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q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Too often I’ve found myself visualizing a pontoon bridge (Eastbank Esplanade style) from the SE Caruthers St terminus of the Esplanade south (hugging the edge of the river) to just south of SK Northwest.
From there it is a little dicey. There is a plot of vacant land there with a decrepit boat ramp; it doesn’t seem to be owned by either adjacent tenant. If it is in use then the flyover MUP bridge that bypasses Ross Island Sand and Gravel would need to start north of the old boat ramp instead of just before them .

Given the intractability of the two land holders here the only option may be to go around them.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Wows a, I had no idea SK Northwest had built that isolated trail segment!

If they were forced by the City to do so, how come the City isn’t just forcing The Portland Spirit owners to do the same for their section of property?

Is it only required in the event of new development?

DK
Guest
DK

Until logistics are settled, Toulan’s opinion seems to be realistic and reasonable.

Evan Manvel
Guest
Evan Manvel

An important reminder for those who want to patronize pro-bicycling businesses: Portland Spirit ain’t one. Take your parties and your visitors elsewhere.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

I don’t live in Portland, but… Could the city use Eminent Domain, and then pay for building the connecting path? I know, this would cost actual money, which is hard to come by _and_ it would be going to the dreaded bicycle special interest group Mafia’s America destroying world domination infrastructure. Sigh.

I think about Portland while I ride on the fog line on the state highway that runs by our land with _no_ paved shoulder, and frequently, no shoulder paved or not.

You’ve got a nice thing going in Portland, please keep trying to make it better. You’re an inspiration and an example we can use to refute the apathetic attitude to bikes and walkers by our State and County DOT’s.

on the Bramblepatch
Marrowstone Island
Salish Sea
Cascadia

BURR
Guest
BURR

How about actually repaving the section between the Hawthorne Bridge and OMSI with concrete? The asphalt there is not in the best of condition.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

Toulan complains that City mandates “Make no sense”, but a service shop and party barn for high end motorheads on riverfront property does? Rules are rules and he isn’t going to develop the site if he doesn’t follow the rules. If his property borders on a kink in the river, then his portion of the path will not dead end into the river, but follow the shore taking even more of his race car/party space.

I wonder how loud the tuning of a race car (or motorcycle) will be and how that will mesh into the character of the neighborhood?

Unit
Guest
Unit

His recommendation is for the owners to “agree” to develop the trail once the connections are possible.

Great idea: make the city fight the battle once now, and again later, as whoever owns the property in the future will fight it tooth and nail, like they always do. LOSE-LOSE proposition.

Just build the trail and quit wasting everyone’s time and $$$ please.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

What if every neighbor in every neighborhood just though “Why should I do this if my neighbors aren’t going to?
Think how crappy things would be.
Like the missing section of trail this article is talking about. It is pretty crappy back there.
Just takes one neighbor to start the ball rolling.
It appears Vollgas is not going to be a good neighbor.
How high can we make the fence around them?

don arambula
Guest
don arambula

Our region is spending in excess of a billion dollars on the nearby Portland Milwaukie LRT project. You would think that we could require a land use and pedestrian and bicycle access that is more transit-oriented. If you want to put your two cents worth in on this district, I might suggest getting involved in the SE Quadrant planning process of the Central City Plan. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/62130

Jim
Guest
Jim

Why can’t they just go around these businesses?

jollydodger
Guest
jollydodger

Looking at the satellite image on google maps, it seems an “easy” fix would be to allow the parking lot of Portland Spirit to be used as a ‘cut through’ – (with warning signage denying/limiting liability during use) – which could drop in from the Caruthers circle where the path deadheads now, (add another thirty or so feet of pathway at the other side of the parking lot) to link with the “orphan path” built by the water sport company…then just open Ivon up as the final connector, avoiding the Ross Island Gravel Co.’s area altogether…or is that just too damn simple a fix? It would only eliminate the Caruthers/4th ave. detour, but that part is invariably heavily trafficked by autos and big cement trucks and is dangerous at most hours except late night.

dwainedibbly
Guest
dwainedibbly

Trimet screwed up. When they negotiated the new bridge with Portland Spirit, they should have made this path part of the deal. (Spirit claimed the bridge was too low, or something, but they settled for some money and some work on their dock, if I recall.)

dwainedibbly
Guest
dwainedibbly

I agree that Toulan should not be let off the hook now. If his business fails, will a future owner have to build it? I could see a future owner wanting the same “do it later” treatment since precedent would have already been set.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

So what is actually wrong with the current route?

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Portland Spirit’s property line ends at the water. While a Esplanade style pontoon bridge is less preferred than a cheaper path on solid ground it must be said that Portland Spirit Inc doesn’t own the river.

This could be used as a tool like a crowbar or a 5lb sledgehammer; sometimes all you have to do is point at it.

The goal is a continuous path where heavy truck traffic does not interact with bikes or peds at all. You’d think Ross Island Sand and Gravel would want safer and more expeditious truck trips at the edge of their property where liability is in question.
Maybe spillover safety impacts (of private business activities on to public road space) could raise the cost of business-as-usual high enough that the two holdouts would find it in their best interest to cooperate.

I’d consider the looming threat of litigation less like a physical weapon and more like playing a continuous loop of dental drill noise.

DK
Guest
DK

I’m discouraged by the lack of empathy for one of our local business owners. Business = jobs.

Fact: The owner’s willing to build the path, once the city negotiaties the logistics with the neighboring businesses. This seems perfectly reasonable, yes?

Put yourself in the business owner’s position…Would you wnat to spend a couple grand on ~200yrds of trail that connects to nothing? ….Or would you rather hold onto your money until a better plan can be formulated?

As a community, perhaps we can adopt more of a win-win outlook? If we’re unreasonable with our neighbors, we must assume they will interact with us in kind. Lose-lose.

-DK

Jon l
Guest
Jon l

I think all of this has gotten so obsessed with being along the river the entire way.
Imagine if there were this discussion about cutting in between Oaks Parks and the river on the south end of the trail…

There are plenty of routes and land that should get some more bike focus that are between OMSI and Ross Island Sand and Gravel.

kww
Guest
kww

I am very comfortable with using the bike lanes on SE 4th/Water sts. Excellent sight lines and no stop sign now; and less worrying about pedestrians.

Toulan should build the path, quit whining and find alternate uses for it till the pathway is linked (20+ years probably)

John
Guest
John

I have no problems at all with the current route around OMSI on SE Water Ave. I dont see what the big deal is. I ride it twice a week (both directions). Nice bike lanes on Water and relatively low traffic.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

It’s funny that people feel safer on the bike path. On a sunny weekend, I feel much safer on the road than the East Bank Esplanade.

Supercourse
Guest
Supercourse

The city where everything takes forever……..or doesn’t take at all.