Deal would require $32.6 million outlay by Port of Portland

Mayor Sam Adams proposed an 11th-hour, $32.6 million funding package Friday morning — on the Port of Portland’s dime — to resolve a tense fight over the proposed city annexation of west Hayden Island, where the port hopes to build marine terminals along the Columbia River shipping channel.

Adams proposed that the port pay for $20.6 million in environmental restorations to make up for the lost forest and other lands due to the port’s 300-acre marine terminal development. In addition, Adams proposed the port pay $3.6 million to aid residents of nearby manufactured homes, ostensibly to alleviate health concerns from diesel fumes at the terminals; $3 million for a park to provide new recreational opportunities on east Hayden Island; $2.8 million to build hiking trails on 500 acres of west Hayden Island that will be left in open space; and $2.5 million for a community fund for use by Hayden Island neighborhood groups over 25 years.

Adams’ proposal, delivered six days before the annexation request comes up for its first hearing before the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission, is aimed at stemming opposition to the port project among east Hayden Island neighbors and environmentalists.

Adams has made it clear he wants to resolve the Hayden Island dispute before he leaves office at year end.

“I think it’s very intriguing,” said Bill Wyatt, Port of Portland chief executive, of Adams’ proposal. Wyatt said he wasn’t sure about the final dollar amount the port would agree to, but said it’s a good starting point for negotiations. “We’re basically draining our bank account to do something like that,” Wyatt said.

Adams made his surprise proposal Friday morning, at the start of a 6-hour final meeting of the West Hayden Island Advisory Committee appointed by the city. The advisory panel faced a daunting list of 120 decision points to resolve in one marathon session.

Bob Sallinger, the Audubon Society of Portland conservation director who has led the opposition to the port’s industrial project for several years, welcomed the mayor’s initiative but said there are too many outstanding details to rush a decision by next week’s planning commission meeting.

“I give him some credit for bringing forward something that is worth discussing,” Sallinger said. However, he added, “if he and Bill Wyatt are serious about this, they need to provide us with the details, the legal language.”

Adams’ proposal is a half-page sheet mostly filled with dollar amounts and line items.

But there are no details on when and how environmental projects must occur, if the port is granting itself “escape clauses” and other pertinent details, Sallinger said.

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