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  • 23 Sep 2014

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Portland to sell controversial Water House

Commissioner Nick Fish said Monday that the city intends to sell the so-called Water House pushed by former Commissioner Randy Leonard.

Leonard conceived of the project as a demonstration of how much water can be saved in well designed homes when he was in charge of the Water Bureau. Mayor Charlie Hales assigned the bureau to Fish earlier this year.

If all goes according to plan, the city will lose over half-a-million dollars on the transaction. Fish says the city will ask $475,000 for the house in far Northeast Portland. That price was set by a real estate consultant based on comparable properties. Documents released by Fish's office on Monday pegged the cost of the project at close to $1 million.

The council has backed away from several pet projects pushed by Leonard in recent months. Among other things, it used general fund dollars to repay the bureau $1.6 million for remodeling a former restaurant in Tom McCall Waterfront Park that was transferred to the Rose festival Association for a headquarters.

The backpedaling comes after a lawsuit was filed against both the water bureau and Bureau of Environmental Service for misspending ratepayer money. It is still pending in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

Two of those bringing the suit, lobbyist Kent Craford and water bureau watchdog Floy Jones, are cosponsoring an initiative petition for a ballot measure that would transfer control of both bureaus to an independently elected board. They hope to place it on the May 2014 Primary Election, when Fish will be up for re-election.