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Racing can continue (for now) at Alpenrose Dairy, despite sale

Posted by on October 2nd, 2019 at 2:29 pm

Racers compete at Alpenrose Velodrome on land adjacent to the dairy that’s soon to be under new ownership.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This weekend the 50 acres of land around Alpenrose Dairy in Portland’s southwest hills will be teeming with cyclocross racers and fans. The hills, kitschy village, and velodrome have provided a route for the kickoff event of the River City Bicycles Cyclocross Crusade for many years. This year a dark cloud has hung over Alpenrose as race organizers worried that a sale of the dairy would result in them being kicked out for good.

Thankfully, that sad fate has been avoided. But the future is still uncertain, and racing fans still shouldn’t take the venue for granted.

As The Oregonian reported last month, the board of Alpenrose Dairy has finalized a sale to a company based in Seattle. The board’s vote came after a Multnomah County judge heard a lawsuit between family owners of Alpenrose Dairy who fought over the sale. The judge ruled that the sale to Seattle-based Smith Brothers Farms will be allowed to go through; but he also admonished both sides and encouraged mediation.

A key issue in the fight over the dairy’s future is what will happen to the acreage adjacent the dairy operations where many community events – including cyclocross and track racing — take place. Last Oregon Bicycle Racing Association Executive Director Chuck Kenlan said if the sale to Seattle-based Smith Brothers Farms went through it could have a “profound impact” on the organization.

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“If the court rules in favor of the majority that wants to sell to Smith Brothers,” Kenlan said, “we could be asked to leave immediately.”

So far, that’s not happening. Smith Brothers Farms CEO Dustin Highland told us in a statement that their acquisition of Alpenrose, “Does not in any way involve the vast acreage on Shattuck Road.” “That land will remain under its current ownership” he said, “it will have no effect on the continued use of the property by its current owners for cycling, softball, and other sports and community activities.”

In a statement made after the Judge’s ruling, Highland reiterated that he wants to, “Be actively engaged with the community that has supported Alpenrose over the decades.” “From day one,” he said, clearly hoping to address OBRA’s concerns, “we were attracted to Alpenrose because of its commitment to its community. That hasn’t changed.”

Representatives from OBRA say they plan to meet with Smith Brothers this week. “We are excited about developing a strong relationship and friendship with the dairy business’ new owners,” they posted on the OBRA Facebook page.

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

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6 Comments
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    Mike Schrankel October 2, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    Thank you for those last few paragraphs. The fact that Smith Bros haven’t purchased the land on which community events take place seems to be conveniently left out of much of the reporting and social media posts.

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    Mike Quigley October 3, 2019 at 8:39 am

    It would be nice if the bicycling community, et.al., could come up with the funding to buy this chunk of land before some out-of-state developer makes the Alpenroses a deal they can’t refuse. And, as you know, that’s only a matter of time.

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      Kristent October 3, 2019 at 10:36 am

      I’ve heard from someone who has access to docs relating to this that the sale of the dairy triggers a sale of the rest of the land in 2 years.

      It would be best if the community groups that use this land for their various activities (velodrome, little league, quarter midgets) get together and pool their efforts as one, to either purchase the land or come to an agreement with the Aunts about continued use of the land.

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        Jeff October 3, 2019 at 2:04 pm

        This is definitely not the case. Smith has nothing to do with the property aside from leasing it. They are entering into a 2 yr lease of their portion of the land with an option to extend.
        Even apart from Smith, there is nothing mandating or “triggering ” the property owners to do anything if the dairy portion is ever sold. The same five board members who’ve controlled the business and land for years are the same five who still control the land.

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    Dave October 3, 2019 at 8:49 am

    Without the income/profits from the dairy, it’s going to be financially challenging for the Alpenrose family to continue to support the activities that go on there. Perhaps a property tax waiver in exchange for a commitment to keep it open might work.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 3, 2019 at 9:29 am

      I won’t be surprised if some funding mechanism comes out of conversations between Smith Bros and event organizers. Perhaps some sort of Alpenrose Land Trust nonprofit model? That is of course, a best-case scenario. Lots of variables here.

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