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

Cyclocross Crusade on the Alpenrose Dairy land.(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)


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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