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West Hayden Island community still feels left out of port proposal: Portland City Hall roundup

By Chase G. Hall
The Oregonian

Scoffs and catcalls greeted officials from Portland's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability during a nearly four-hour open house on the development of West Hayden Island Tuesday night.

West Hayden Island community still feels left out of port proposal: Portland City Hall roundup

Chase Hall/The Oregonian - Mayor Sam Adams holds a microphone to an audience member who is explaining her complaints about a draft proposal to put a new 300-acre port on West Hayden Island.

Scoffs and catcalls greeted officials from Portland's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability during a nearly four-hour open house on the development of West Hayden Island Tuesday night.

City officials scheduled the public meeting to get additional community feedback on the proposal to turn about 300 acres of shoreline, marshes and woods into a shipping terminal for the Port of Portland. The meeting followed a similar one June 20.

About 70 people attended Tuesday's meeting, held at Oxford Suites on Jantzen Beach. About 20 people spoke, and all who did said they opposed the plan. Some held signs -- with images of birds, frogs and scenes of the waterfront -- that asked the Portland City Council to "just say no."

The idea for developing the island first took root in 1983, when the Metro regional government added it to the urban-growth boundary. Mayor Sam Adams took up the issue again in 2010, asking the planning bureau to study a development plan. Port officials estimate development would create 1,200 jobs.

Tuesday, the audience spent an hour lobbing comments, questions and complaints at Adams, who agreed to serve as a moderator. Bureau staff took notes on posters and pasted them to the walls. There were a lot of notes.

Concerned audience members raised questions about potential health risks and nuisances such as smog, noise, and increased truck traffic in the surrounding communities.

Others demanded more consideration for West Hayden Island's environment, which they said has already been partially compromised.

The answers didn't appear to persuade audience members that their worries would be addressed. But some were at least happy the bureau appeared to be listening, they said.

"We're pleased the mayor came out, and that the process has slowed down," said Bob Sallinger, an Audubon Society of Portland representative who quit an advisory group for the project in June, calling the process broken. "But it remains to be seen as to whether the port and city is seriously committed to addressing community concerns."

Jimmé Peters, who lives on the island near the proposed development, left still feeling frustrated, she said.

"It feels like the same game," said Peters, who has attended multiple meetings on the port's development plans since the late 1990s. "They listen, but nothing changes."

Eric Engstrom, a project manager for the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, was one of the staffers answering questions. In response to critics' concerns, his office will complete a health impact assessment of the project, he said.

He added that he hoped the audience felt the process was open to their input.

"It's helpful to talk about this with the community," he said. "I would have strong feelings too if I was in their spot."

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