by: FILE PHOTO - The City Council could move closer to convertng the Jerome Sears Armory to Portland's first westside emergency operations center this week.The City Council is scheduled to consider land use changes necessary to convert a former U.S. military armory into Portland's first heavy equipment dispatch yard and an emergency response center west of the Willamette River.

The requested Comprehensive Land Use Plan map amendment will change the zoning at 7230 Southwest Multnomah Boulevard from Medium Density Multi-Dwelling to Mixed Employment. The change is necessary to allow the city to use the four-acre site that includes the former Sears Armory as an Auxiliary Emergency Operations Center.

At the present time, all of the city's heavy equipment is stored on the east side of the Willamette River when it is not in use. The main emergency center is on the eastside, too. City officials say converting the armory will allow the city to better respond to natural and manmade disasters that could make travel across the Willamette River bridges difficult or impossible.

The federal government is giving the former armory to the city under policies governing the disposition of unused surplus properties. The City Council had earlier approved the construction of a mixed-use housing project on the site, but financing proved too difficult.

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