Future of Alpenrose Dairy hangs in the balance amid lawsuit over potential sale

Posted by on March 6th, 2019 at 7:49 am

Opening race of the 2012 Cyclocross Crusade series with Alpenrose Dairy buildings in the background.

A 57-year tradition of bicycle racing at Alpenrose Dairy in southwest Portland faces a major threat.

“I realize this is big news and has a potential huge impact on not just OBRA, but the Portland area community that has benefitted from the incredible generosity of the Cadonau family.”
— Chuck Kenlan, executive director of Oregon Bicycle Racing Association

The ominous first line of a lawsuit (PDF) filed Monday afternoon in Multnomah County Circuit Court reads, “This action is brought to stop the destruction of Alpenrose Dairy and the land upon which Alpenrose sits.”

The squabble over the Dairy and the 52 acres of land that surrounds it (off SW Shattuck Road in the Hayhurst neighborhood) is between members of the Cadonau family who founded the Dairy in 1891. Two of the family members who retain majority power in the Cadonau Family Management Trust — Barbara Deeming and Anita Cadonau-Huseby — want to sell the Dairy and adjacent land. According to the Portland Tribune, the new owners would relocate the dairy operations and immediately close the land to the public.

That means all cycling events — including the Cyclocross Crusade, Alpenrose Velodrome Challenge, Blind Date at the Dairy, and others — would need to find new homes.

Three other members of the family — Carl Cadonau III, Tracey Cadonau McKinnon, and Cary Cadonau — have filed a lawsuit to stop the sale and keep the Dairy and land in its current state of operation.

Given the popularity of Alpenrose in the cycling community, news of the lawsuit and potential sale has spread quickly and it’s raising serious concerns.

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A family watches competitors in a cyclocross race that uses the Alpenrose Velodrome.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) Executive Director Chuck Kenlan wrote in an email posted to the group’s chat list, “I realize this is big news and has a potential huge impact on not just OBRA, but the Portland area community that has benefitted from the incredible generosity of the Cadonau family.” Kenlan added that while the lawsuit is “sudden and potentially harmful,” the case could take years to litigate. “Even though we should be prepared for the worst,” he wrote, “I believe that OBRA and the PVC [Portland Velodrome Committee] should continue with our events as planned.”

Kenlan also hinted that the OBRA Board of Directors is already mobilized and taking action to help save the dairy. OBRA and the Cadonau family have developed a very close relationship over the years.

It was Portlander Frans Pauwels who convinced Carl Cadonau II to build a dirt cycling track on the dairy property in 1962. Five years later, buoyed by the popularity of the dirt track, Cadonau spent $30,000 to build an Olympic-style velodrome on the property. Former Portland Mayor Terry Schrunk worked with Pauwels to bring the National Bicycle Championships to the track that same year. Today, Alpenrose Velodrome’s steeply-banked corners attract racers from all over the country.

The Alpenrose site is a mainstay on the Portland cycling calendar. It hosts the traditional opening race of the world famous Cyclocross Crusade series which used to get record crowds of around 1,800 participants in one day.

Cycling is just one of many community activities that happens at the dairy. It’s also famous for its Santa’s Village, Storybook Lane, an opera house, a baseball diamond that hosts the Little League World Series, and much more.

Why would anyone want to destroy this legacy? In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that Deeming and Huseby are simply in it for the money. “They continue to make decisions motivated by their individual monetary interests… in order to line their own pockets with millions of dollars.”

We’ll continue to monitor this story as it develops.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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25 Comments
  • Avatar
    Jim Lee March 6, 2019 at 8:38 am

    The fence behind the back straight of the velodrome is right on Portland’s city limit. The property could be bought by the city and made a park.

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      jon March 6, 2019 at 9:59 am

      Ultimately a purchase by the City of Portland would probably be the same as selling to a developer when it comes to cyclocross events. The city of Portland Parks Department has not permitted an off road bicycle event in over 15 years due to a “no bikes on turf” policy in any place besides Portland International Raceway. I used to ride my bike in SW Portland in places like Marshall Park, Maricara natural area, and the Riverview woods. In the last 10 years the city has plastered “no bike” signs all over those areas now. There is next to no foot traffic so “user conflict” is not the issue. The issue is Portland Parks does not want bikes used off pavement.
      It is rather funny how events in Waterfront park can destroy the turf but as long as they pay to repair the area they are allowed to continue year after year but bicycles are banned regardless even during times of the year they don’t do any damage.
      Running events are permitted in Forest Park in the spring and fall which cause trail damage but they continue to be permitted.
      I would also worry about Portland taking over the cart racing track and baseball fields. I bet 1/2 the fields would be turned into soccer fields and the cart track removed.
      Hopefully the younger generation prevails but I think the writing is on the wall for the Alpenrose campus. It will be sold sooner or later and developed into housing.

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        John Lascurettes March 6, 2019 at 10:04 am

        Perhaps wishing The Lumberyard takes over Alpenrose would be a better pipe dream.

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        I wear many hats March 8, 2019 at 8:58 am

        Exactly! Lets hope the lawsuit prevails. Portland Parks and Recreation does not serve the bike community at all. Keep riding our local trails. We can all share.

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    JeffS March 6, 2019 at 8:41 am

    I’m sure they’re open to offers by people who are willing to sit on that kind of money and not turn a profit.

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      TSvi Epstein March 6, 2019 at 9:08 pm

      ““They continue to make decisions motivated by their individual monetary interests… in order to line their own pockets with millions of dollars.”

      That is a vile, defaming statement to me that is not necessary. Owners of property worth many tens of millions are entitled to make some millions on it…if they can. If they are in a position to be philanthropic and want to use it to benefit the public at large, that is quite nice and I thank them. But it belongs to them and not to me, even if I have enjoyed its use…and I have.

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        John March 19, 2019 at 6:11 pm

        I’m coming late to this article, but based upon my understanding of the situation, it would appear that the trust holders came into this wealth with certain strings attached by their ancestors. Amongst those strings was an intent to maintain a community asset, as specified in the trust documents, and they are obligated to consider community interests when making decisions regarding the business and its assets. Not that cut and dry. Sadly the only winners will be the attorneys.

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    bikeninja March 6, 2019 at 9:28 am

    This made me sick to my stomach when I read it on Oregon Live first thing this morning. My earliest memories as a child growing up in SW Portland were trips to Dairy Land and later the little league fields and velodrome and the now gone (I think) rodeo arena. I watched cartoon shows broadcast from there hosted by the Clown ” Rusty Nails”, ( the inspiration for the Simpsons Crusty the Clown”. I have always purchased their dairy products to support this Portland Institution. I wish the “good” members of the family well in their battle with the “greedy” members of the family. Perhaps some concerned folks can track down these Scrooges and talk some sense in to them.

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      Eric A. March 6, 2019 at 1:43 pm

      Very similar memories too. 12 years old, riding my bike to the dairy with a friend to try to ride on the velodrome (we never could). Then finding the room with mountain of ice shavings and cooling off (were we supposed to be in that room?! who knows…).
      After spending a whole summer practicing, I did my first BMX race there, back when they had the dirt track. Played little league there, watched the go-cart races. Went to many, many christmas in dairyville’s. Have watched many cyclocross races there and cheered for friends. Never a bad memory there. Now I am taking my kids so they can create memories there.
      If this place gets sold, closed, destroyed and developed, a piece of myself will be destroyed too.
      I live in Happy Valley now, and I see farmland being eaten up and an alarming rate, developed with max density houses. Would be a shame to see Alprenrose reach a similar fate.
      I am already sad because I know whatever turns the highest profit will be the winning plan…public interests and community good be damned….Unless…..Maybe, just maybe, Deeming and Huseby take a look outside of their bank accounts and are brave enough to do something that benefits (and continues to benefit) the community as a whole.

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    SERider March 6, 2019 at 9:54 am

    This is sad. Alpenrose is an incredible resource for the city of Portland. Thank you to the Dairy and family for all they have done for the public over the years.

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    Steve March 6, 2019 at 10:25 am

    I’m curious if any of Powell Butte park sits on the former Meadowland Dairy or if that property all went private. I know the access road was an easement for the water bureau.

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    I wear many hats March 6, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    Now all the affluent bike racers will be gentrified out of Portland. Who’s left to push out? The replacement byrd scooterdrome will be smaller than the current velodrome though. If parks buys it say goodbye to “recreation” and hello to more natural space that excludes cyclists.

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      BradWagon March 6, 2019 at 3:40 pm

      When using the internet it helps to remember this simple rule: “If you’re not going to say something coherent it’s best to just say nothing all”.

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      • Avatar
        I wear many hats March 7, 2019 at 8:57 am

        Do the rules also state that its best to dog on someone without any comment regarding the text of the article? Forgive me for working and not writing a treatise on the fall of Alpenrose in the BikePortland comment section.
        Portland is rapidly infilling any and all underdeveloped property. A community asset, as intended by the Alpenrose Trust, is being dismantled, and the only legal place to ride a bike on dirt on the West side of the Willamette is now going the way of the Salmon. A best case scenario here is that Parks will buy it with the zero dollars that they have. Their prerogative over the years has been to maximize parks and minimize recreation. I have zero faith in Parks to run this property and still allow bicycles should they work out a purchase compromise.

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    Austin March 6, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    Alpenrose is amazing. The velodrome is super cool, of course, but beyond that, the place (and what they offer) is incredibly cool. Going there for christmas is a tradition with my family – it’s really fun and so different than anyplace else. The theater, the mini-town, the duck pond, etc etc etc

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    Laura March 6, 2019 at 12:47 pm

    If the “good” side wins, they should look at creating a non-profit, like what Oaks Park has done. They could sell of or drop the dairy production, and manage the property as a private park, capitalizing on the velodrome and baseball facilities, much like Oaks has done with the skate rink, picnic areas, and rides.

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    Bill Pooley March 6, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    I have always wondered when an occurrence like this would happen regarding Alpenrose. Trusts are complicated, fragile, and not guaranteed forever within the voting power of the trustees. In this case I presume Alpenrose should be preserved if the court agrees that the letter of the law of the trust prevails. I rode the original Alpenrose Veledrome prior to the 1967 rebuild and for many years thereafter. I suggest reading the original court lawsuit document and coming to your own conclusion. It contains detail far more than any online news article explains.

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      Dave March 7, 2019 at 7:17 am

      Stuff is always going to change, it’s a family catfight over family property. I have just one suggestion–that the new owners and developers name one new street “Leusenkamp Lane” and another “Pauwels Drive.”

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    Grannygear March 6, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    Inevitable and we will all be okay. Let’s turn out energy to a velodrome that’s internationally useful and closer to town for locals. No more riding 45 mins in rush h our traffic to maybe not get rained out on a falling appart, sparsly attended 1/6 mile . Think pole barn. Think east Portland.

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    mark smith March 6, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    It’s their Land to stall. This is America, not Stalingad. If they want to sell it, let them sell it.

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      I wear many hats March 7, 2019 at 11:38 am

      Technically yes AND no. Half of the board listed in the trust does not consent to the sell of the property. This is an intra-family squabble that greatly affects the Portland area one way or the other.

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    fourknees March 7, 2019 at 10:53 am

    Very popular Easter Egg hunt here too! Lots of memories at Alpensrose.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson March 7, 2019 at 11:37 am

    A few more memories…I was mostly a singles hitter in Little League baseball, 60 or so year ago, so I still remember getting all of one and putting it over the left field fence one night. What a gift the Cadonaus have given us all these years! The best way to preserve open space in our rapidly growing city is for the public to purchase it; all these apartment buildings must be generating some SDC money that should be used for just this purpose; maybe a joint purchase with Washington county’s THP&RD could be arranged. Or why not Metro?…put it in the next parks and open space bond measure!

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    PDXCyclist March 7, 2019 at 3:07 pm

    FWIW a PBOT person told me that without Alpenrose agreeing for the Red Electric Trail to go through their property the trail wouldn’t ever happen. So if they do sell i wonder if it makes the trail a tiny bit more likely.

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      Dave March 8, 2019 at 1:36 pm

      If new owners would allow a trail through that gave active travelers an alternate to BH highway, ththat would be a platinum, not a silver, lining!!

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