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City outlines options for Mt. Tabor reservoirs


Many at meeting still oppose replacing them

Photo Credit: KOIN 6 NEWS - One of the historic Mt. Tabor reservoirs that will be replaced by underground stoage tanks.At a crowded meeting Tuesday night, commissioners Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz outlined options for the Mt. Tabor reservoirs after the city stops using them for water storage.

Many of those who attended the meeting at Warner Pacific College said they oppose disconnecting the reservoirs and complained the City Council isn't listening to them.

Fish is in charge of the Water Bureau, which is pursuing a plan to switch to underground storage tanks to comply with federal regulations banning open reservoirs by the end of 2015. Fritz is in charge of Portland Parks & Recreation, which could finance and administer the changes.

The three options presented at the meeting are:

• In Option 1, water would be kept in the reservoir at a cost of about $90,000 a year.

• In Option 2, the water would be drained and the reservoir would be left empty. There is no estimate on the maintenance cost for this option at this time.

• In Option 3, water would be kept in the reservoir, improvements would be made to the park and a plan to come up with $40 million to do this would need to be found and agreed upon.

Fish and Fritz said they are open to other ideas, but plan to announce the city's decision at a Dec. 10 meeting.

Fish said he understands the connection the reservoirs have “to a different time, a different place, a different century.”

According to Fish, if the community decides to keep the reservoirs as historic structures and have the city make the appropriate investments, “that is something Commissioner Fritz and I could support,."

Before the meeting, Fish said the city has no choice but to replace the open reservoirs with underground storage tanks. Portland previously went to court to get out from under the regulations, but lost.

“The federal government has mandated that we disconnect our reservoirs and Portland and every city in the country has had to grapple with this,” Fish told KOIN 6 News. “Tonight begins our process of asking what happens to the reservoirs once they are no longer functioning as reservoirs. This is a very important question and needs to be completely discussed with the community.”

Eduardo Herrera, who lives in the Mt. Tabor neighborhood, said he goes there about three times a week.

“I love it. It’s just one of the best places in Portland,” he said. “I think it’s really said if they take the water away.”

Residents April and David Truhlar agree.

“I would think leave the water in. I’m sure there are geese and birds that use it,” April Truhlar said, suggesting “ice skating in winter” as a possibility.

Resident Scott Fernandez complained the city was not listening to residents.

The next meeting on December 10 will also be held at McGuire Auditorium at Warner Pacific College.

Jim Redden contributed to this story.