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Hayden Island project rumbles over community

My View • Port plans show little concern for manufactured home residents
by: L.E. BASKOW, Sebastian Degens, Port of Portland marine planning and development manager, shows port spokeswoman Martha Richmond parcels that might be preserved if the agency is allowed to develop west Hayden Island.

Your recent feature article on the Port of Portland's desire to develop the west end of Hayden Island was an insightful look at two sides of a very complicated issue (West Hayden Island - Habitat, or industry?, May 21). However, there is another side to the story that most of the parties involved minimize or choose to forget about completely: people.

For most of Portland, Hayden Island is divided by Interstate 5 - homes, condos and floating homes to the east, the Jantzen Beach Supercenter and industrial parks to the west.

But also west of the freeway and surrounding the shopping mall are homes - hundreds of manufactured homes that will be directly impacted by any development to the west. Old homes, new homes, doublewides and singles, fixed-income retirees and single families with children - all of these are in the Hayden Island Mobile Home Community.

I have lived in the community for the past 16 years, and served two terms on the board of the local homeowners association. My first time on the board was in 1996, the last time the port actively considered this area for development.

We were concerned then, just as I am concerned now, that the port is not considering the impact on the residents of our community. If the west end of Hayden Island is developed, huge trucks and construction equipment will roll right past our homes and will greatly increase the traffic burden on North Hayden Island Drive, a street already overburdened by congestion.

This is not a major street. It is a slightly uneven, two-lane residential street that already holds too much traffic. Many afternoons and most weekends, during holidays and sales at the mall, traffic congestion can get so bad it can take 30 to 45 minutes to go the three-quarters mile from my house to I-5. Adding the burden of a major construction project would make those conditions intolerable.

Building a bridge

I cannot speak with any voracity about either option for west Hayden Island. While I personally prefer that the west end remain undeveloped as the loss of such pristine natural habitat would be a tragedy for everyone, in light of the current economy I can certainly understand any effort to make the Port of Portland more competitive in the global marketplace.

However, if the west end of the island is to be developed, a bridge to divert construction and future truck traffic has to be the first priority. When the 1996 plan was presented to our homeowners association, a bridge from North Marine Drive to Hayden Island was included, but not until the project's fourth phase. Any traffic during the first three phases would have rumbled past our homes and our children.

That was unacceptable then, and it is unacceptable now.

Most of the residents of the Hayden Island Mobile Home Community are middle to lower income people. Many are older people rely on Social Security and few have options to relocate.

A majority of the homes are more than 20 years old and could not be moved even if the homeowner wanted to. In short, they are at the mercy of the Port of Portland and the city for their quality of life should this project get the green light.

They should be the first area of concern, not an afterthought.

Jim Siverson is a resident of the Hayden Island Mobile Home Community.