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Riverfront can provide jobs and habitat

Readers' Letters
by: JIM CLARK, Canada geese make themselves at home in the lagoon at Swan Island on the Willamette River. Some letter writers say that economic uses of the waterfront must receive consideration, along with environmental restoration.

Several of Bob Sallinger's comments about the Port of Portland in his July 9 Post Script article, 'Industry must do its share in cleaning river' require a response.

The Port of Portland agrees that new initiatives are necessary to protect and restore our natural areas. Our actions to develop and manage our marine and aviation facilities beyond what is required by regulation and our leadership role in efforts to clean up the Willamette River demonstrate this.

The focus of the North Reach River Plan is to examine riverfront development regulations in the working harbor and look for ways to preserve and enhance quality jobs and watershed health. We support the plan's basic premise that new fees from business expansion or new business location will help fund watershed improvements. Our point is that in order for both jobs and environmental quality to benefit, these new fees must be reasonable; otherwise, there will be neither adequate funds for restoration nor jobs to strengthen the city's economic base.

The major thrust of Mr. Sallinger's criticism is our alignment with private businesses through the Working Waterfront Coalition. The port's mission, mandated by state law, is to promote the maritime, shipping, and commercial interests of the harbor. It is therefore our charge to be a public advocate for efforts that lead to long-term sustainability of the working harbor, and to encourage private investment there so the city remains competitive in this dynamic global marketplace. Naturally, we work with a broad variety of stakeholders, including private businesses, to achieve these public goals.

We will continue to support ways to encourage water-dependent industrial growth in the right places, supporting mechanisms to fund restoration. 'Smart' industrial growth - within the city, near freight corridors, done in a green manner, affordable for business - should be the future of our city. More collaborative work on these issues is needed. Let's take the time to get it right - for all involved.

Tom Imeson

director of public affairs, Port of Portland

Northeast Portland

Coalition must restore remnants

I appreciate Bob Sallinger's Post Script commentary asking for a balanced view on industrial partnership in restoration of the North Reach (Industry must do its share in cleaning river, July 9).

As a neighbor and citizen of North Portland living near the sites being discussed, I would like to add that our industrial neighbors are as diverse as us (residential) neighbors. Some have understood the problem of the environmental crisis and have acted as willing partners in trying to help the community meet the current need for restoration.

However, to our industrial (Working Waterfront) Coalition partners I would say: What part of 'crisis' do you not understand?

The time of doing 'business as usual' is no longer. The dumping of massive amounts of chemicals into the Willamette River doesn't work for us anymore.

The need for river bank restoration on key sites is necessary if we hope to meet the current wildlife crisis. The crisis is particularly acute among river species, but also is now affecting land species, which are declining too rapidly. Restoration on site is something we need from them to help the North Portland community respond to current needs. We must also ask them to clean up as they go and pay to play.

One of the outstanding things about the St. Johns neighborhood is that people have a great sense of ownership and a good connection to nature. We ask the same of our industrial coalition partners. Please own what you do because it affects other areas of the community. If that model is too strenuous for you, please understand that no trade off is worth further environmental degradation to the North Reach where we live and raise families.

We enjoy and want to be stewards of the rich natural resources of this community, and their significant decline over the last number of years cannot continue. What we have left are remnants.

We're asking you to participate in creating, enhancing and restoring these remnants to meet the crisis. We're asking you to partner with us as conscious citizens of the North Reach.

Barbara Quinn

chairwoman, Friends of Cathedral Park Neighborhood Association

North Portland

Plan must preserve economic future

Bob Sallinger is right (Industry must do its share in cleaning river, July 9). Unfortunately, he misunderstands industry concerns about the River Plan recently endorsed by the Portland Planning Commission. Simply stated, this plan will discourage precisely those kinds of investments that Portland's infrastructure-rich harbor is designed to house - and those investments necessary to clean up the river.

To quote Portland State University Professor Carl Abbott, 'Portland is one of a handful of U.S. cities whose riverside location is nearly as important to prosperity and growth today as it was a century ago.'

The harbor provides tens of thousands of jobs. It is the location from where Oregon manufacturers and agricultural businesses ship their goods. It is here, too, that Oregonians import necessary raw materials and consumable goods that enrich our daily lives.

Yet, the River Plan proposes a regulatory process and fee schedule that has already prompted one river-dependent business to table its expansion plans; we fear others will do the same.

What is missing from the River Plan discussion is that waterfront industrial businesses will likely pay millions in their respective restoration obligations under the Superfund.

What also is missing is the recognition that most businesses have already changed their practices by investing in on-site stormwater treatment facilities and reducing or eliminating storm water discharges altogether - a crucial investment toward river cleanup and habitat improvement.

Finally, the reported 'promise of $586 million' in infrastructure is not a promise at all, but simply a list of the priority projects that have been identified by various public and private entities for planning purposes. Many of the improvements will have to find funding from revenues created by actual users' fees paid for by businesses and individuals when they purchase fuel or develop property.

By the city's own admission, the River Plan is complex. That is why members of the Working Waterfront Coalition have participated for more than nine years in discussions about how best to achieve our collective vision of a prosperous working harbor and enhanced natural environment.

We must insist that our actions today honor our historic foresight, meet our environmental responsibilities and also preserve our economic future.

Alan Sprott, Vigor Industrial LLC

Bob Short, CalPortland Co.

Ann Gardner, Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc.

Working Waterfront Coalition

North Portland

Sallinger needs to look at big picture

In the guest article by Bob Sallinger, 'Industry must do its share in cleaning river' (July 9), is Mr. Sallinger reading the same River Plan as everyone else?

In his article, Mr. Sallinger tells us: 'The city is installing a new streamlined process to ensure the local, state and federal environmental mandates are coordinated and complementary.' Apparently, he has not applied for a city of Portland building permit to develop industrial sites. The process is very complex, requiring various land-use studies and environmental mitigation, all of which significantly increases the cost of developing a commercial or industrial site within the city of Portland. The River Plan will not simplify the process; rather it will become even more complex and costly under the River Plan.

Mr. Sallinger claims that the River Plan promises $586 million in public funding for road and other infrastructure improvements to support industrial landowners. Where does Mr. Sallinger envision that those public funds will come from? I don't suppose any public funds will be provided by the Audubon Society or other environmental groups.

The facts escape Mr. Sallinger that the vast majority of public funds are created through commerce in the form of taxes and fees related to business growth and job creation. Economic growth and commerce are the fuels that drive our public funding to support our community projects.

Finally, Mr. Sallinger apparently has not been involved with doing business in this area. He states 'local industrial landowners simply do not believe that they have an obligation to help restore landscapes that their activities helped degrade.' He does not seem to understand that, in fact, industry is already highly regulated and is required to restore any environmental degradation through existing regulations created by laws such as the Clean Air Act or Clean Water Act.

Please Mr. Sallinger, take a look at the big picture.

Robert Piatt

North Portland

It was nice to learn more about the lady

This is a great interview with one of Portland's most amazing people (In Character with Gert Boyle, June 18). Finally we get to learn a little about the person behind that withering look. With those snappy comebacks, Boyle could have been equally successful in late-night TV.

My thanks to the Tribune and reporter/straight-man Peter Korn.

Ric Getter

Southwest Portland

Gert Boyle is a hero for all

What interested me in this interview is that Gert did not rise to the interviewer's bait on the disadvantage of being a woman doing a 'man's job' of running the company (In Character with Gert Boyle, June 18). She just stated what she did and never once bashed men or women.

That's the sign of a strong, smart and competent person. She is my hero.

William S. Hamilton

Woodburn

Valets should be fired for kickbacks

Those valets should lose their jobs when they deliberately send hotel customers to the airport in high priced limos (Rules aim to soften cab, town car fight, June 18).

What is their job? Is it getting paid through kickbacks from limo drivers or is it working for the hotel?

I suspect that some majordomo at the hotel is also getting kickbacks from the valets for this unfair practice to continue.

Maybe the hotel owners should be sued, or maybe they should clean house and get rid of the slugs.

Dan Maher

Southeast Portland

Health plan would be good for Oregon

The Tribune editorial board cited recent tax hikes by the Oregon Legislature as damaging to the state (Tax hike will hurt Oregon, June 11). It also pointed out that the state's health plan expenses are rising beyond control, both for our neediest citizens and our own government employees.

Our state's problem with the health insurance crisis is just a small part of this national problem. This newspaper's complaints are valid and offer more proof that action is needed at the federal level.

Now is the time that Congress must act to include a strong public health insurance component available to all Americans. A national plan has the potential to help us offset the costs of our state health plan by joining forces with the federal government.

A federal plan would have far more bargaining clout than any plan the state can negotiate alone.

Aaron Douglas

Southwest Portland

Tax hike won't hurt the rich

According to your editor, the rich are being 'punished' by a tax hike (Tax hike will hurt Oregon, June 11). Let's explore that.

The rich are already rich. They have a second or third (energy sucking) house, their kids are in private schools and college is paid for. Money is making money in the market. Club dues are paid up.

But they're being 'punished' by having to contribute to something greater than themselves? Cry me a river.

The American corporate elite are something. Their culture of greed and entitlement is the worst display of anti-patriotism I've ever seen. They don't fight our wars, but they sure like to sell their stuff in, and invest in, the war economy.

Banks, the insurance industry, the health care industry, oil companies, wood products companies - they act like the middle-class is their 'customer' class, their labor pool or their source of bailout funds when they screw up, while they fight affordable health care for the same people.

John Denton

Southeast Portland