Portland's planning commission tonight denied quick passage for one of the last major items on Mayor Sam Adams' to do list in the final weeks of his term.
The West Hyden Island annexation plan's been on and off the table for thirty years. Mayor Adams and Port officials have been working behind the scenes the past few weeks to move the project along. Sebastian Degans manages Marine and Terminal Business Development for the Port. He told the Commission that the city may not even be aware of its lost economic opportunities.
Sebastian Degans "Actually the opportunities, if one's not ready, pass by silently."
Degans recalled working with a Japanese carrier in 2005, trying to site a grain elevator on the Port's Terminal 4. The site just wasn't suitable, Degans said.
Sebastian Degans "They ultimately went to Longview, invested $250 million in a grain elevator there, I'm told."
Degans says the Port will be less competitive without the long-term expansion options the Hayden Island plan offers.
Adams urged the Commission to keep in mind the years spent moving the project this far.
Sam Adams "This has to be one of the best-researched planning issues I've ever been involved with in 31 years of public service." He acknowledged consensus had not been reached by an advisory committee of stakeholders, but suggested to the Commission Hayden Island is simply a tough decision the city must make, with or without consensus.
In hours of public testimony over two hearings, neighborhood activists, environmentalists, and others outlined their concerns.
They convinced commissioners to slow down the process.
Commission chair Andre Baugh thanked Mayor Adams for kick-starting the discussion, but acknowledged a wealth of technical, procedural, and funding questions that remain unresolved around the West Hayden Island project.
Andre Baugh "I think it's also important that this be our process. Because it's our at the end of the day, it's not the mayor's. He gets his chance. It has to be our proposal that goes forward."
Adams had left the meeting by the time the Commission determined it would not hold an up-or-down vote on his expedited plan. Instead, Commissioners directed planning staff to pull together a three-month schedule for handling the decision, and to boil down dozens of issues still up in the air, into a workable agenda.