The West Hayden Island Problem:
by Editorial Board
It's been nearly three decades since Metro, the regional government, tucked West Hayden Island inside the urban growth boundary to promote the development of a marine terminal at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers. It's been at least 15 years since the Port of Portland, which bought more than 800 acres of the island, started negotiating with the city of Portland to build the terminal and expand the region's capacity for shipping.
Along the way, residents, Portland conservationists and city officials won assurances that the terminal would be done in such a way as not to wreck what everyone agrees is an urban realm uncommonly rich in wildlife, marshes, woods -- and wraparound shoreline that supports endangered runs of fish.
Now things threaten to veer off-track. Residents and conservation advocates accuse the city of withering before an election-year rush by the Port of Portland to win official support to annex West Hayden Island and make zone changes possible -- all before terms of the deal can be fully understood. They especially fear that roughly 500 acres of the property to be set aside as a natural area could go unprotected after 25 years, leaving development options open for the Port of Portland.
This is how big ideas die, even after years of trying: in the details and in the public process that sees after them. Sound familiar? Efforts to annex the property failed in 1999 and 2009, as well.
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