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Readers' Letters: SW site sale ripples beyond neighborhood

I am sorry to see that city Commissioner Nick Fish thinks opposition to the Freeman water tank sale is relegated to a small group of immediate neighbors (Facing lawsuits, Fish calls for mediation on SW property sale, Jan. 23).

In that view, he is simply wrong. This issue has gone far beyond the neighbors who live near the property. My neighborhood association (Ashcreek) and three others have joined as supporters of keeping the Freeman water tank property in public ownership.

In addition to us and dozens of individual citizens, other organizations that represent thousands of people have joined the coalition opposing the city’s sale of this property to a private developer. This includes Southwest Neighborhoods Inc. (which represents 17 neighborhoods), Oregon Wild, West Multnomah Water Conservation District, Multnomah Village Business Association and Friends of Woods Park. Other groups also are considering joining with us.

We are not opposing development. We’re opposing the loss of a greenspace parcel strategically located adjacent to the Woods Memorial Natural Area. It not only provides habitat and critically needed urban greenspace, it would be an important addition to Woods Park and a direct link to the Southwest Trails pathway system so carefully carved out by joint city and citizen effort over the course of many years.

We’re also, of course, challenging the process by which the city put this public parcel up for sale because we think it was handled contrary to city ordinance and the provisions of state law that govern the disposition of public properties.

In the end, all of us are advocating on behalf of the broader public interest, not just on behalf of the immediate neighbors. We hope that Commissioner Fish will recognize that as the process of resolving this matter — hopefully through mediation, but through legal action if needed — proceeds.

Dean Smith

President, Ashcreek Neighborhood Association

Southwest Portland

Oregon Only plan more risk than reward

I write to you as a concerned Oregonian with extensive knowledge of Vancouver and Clark County gained as an active member of the board of directors of the Fort Vancouver National Trust. As chairman of the Long Range Planning Committee, I helped FVNT respond to the Columbia River Crossing proposal, which included using eminent domain to take land away from both the National Park Service and city of Vancouver property.

The risks Oregonians face to pay for the Oregon Only plan invalidate the rationale advanced by project proponents. Will we collect toll revenues from Washingtonians determined to not support a bridge with light rail? Clark County voters twice defeated attempts by C-TRAN, the local transit agency, to fund light-rail costs.

Are Oregonians prepared to provide construction and operational funding for light rail in Washington? Mitigation for the land taking from FVNT and the National Park Services is required by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. A “community connector” covering a portion of Interstate 5 is part of the mitigation agreed upon within the current proposal. Are we prepared to build it?

It should be very clear that there is well-organized and politically strong opposition to the current CRC proposal. The Oregon Only plan makes a mockery of Washington’s sovereignty to determine its own transportation priorities. Oregonians would be just as opposed if the situation were reversed.

The risk versus reward ratio of the current CRC proposal is completely out of balance, imperiling the state of Oregon’s bonding capacity, general fund and transportation priorities for decades into the future. As a representative of the citizens of the state of Oregon, I ask that you refuse to support the Oregon Only CRC proposal.

Bing Sheldon, FAIA

Northwest Portland