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County commission approves Bull Run site plans

Powerhouse future holds historic museum

The Bull Run Powerhouse, Bull Run School and Roslyn Lake Park are on their way to getting new identities and new purposes.

On Wednesday, Dec. 3, Clackamas County commissioners approved a proposal by Powerhouse Re Gen, a company run by Portland developers interested in historic preservation, for conditional use and historic review of the three sites the company bought in 2011.

Karen Karlsson, one of the founding members of Powerhouse Re Gen, which was formed purely to purchase the powerhouse when Portland General Electric decommissioned it, said she’s one of the crazy Portlanders who fell in love with the history of this community.

“When we saw (the powerhouse) for the first time, we fell in love with it,” Karlsson said. “If it hadn’t been purchased by us, it would’ve been demolished.”

The land that Powerhouse Re Gen owns, which includes the powerhouse, school and park, totals 115 acres. The company is looking to sell both the school and park, after which it plans to create a museum on the 10 acres the powerhouse sits on.

Karlsson said the plan is to create a museum that will tell the story of the powerhouse, from when it began providing power to Portland to when the dam was taken out to preserve fish life.

“It’s kind of an interesting story to tell,” she said.

The approved proposal includes a small restaurant, gift shop and art galleries to supplement the site’s historic museum.

Karlsson said it is going to be a slow process to complete the proposed projects, and money will need to be raised.

But she hopes the company will be able to hold three or four events this year to begin introducing the community to what it hopes to accomplish once the museum is complete.

Karlsson said the company anticipates selling the park and school site to Trackers Earth, which plans to create a Bull Run educational facility, an overnight environmental and back-to-the-earth camp for children and adults.

Under the proposal, the site would be used by up to 800 people during the day and 300 at night. New structures would include six cabins, six platform tents and two pavilion shelters.

But the Oregon Zoo has also been in the running to purchase land in the area.

According to Heidi Rahn, the zoo has been looking into creating an elephant sanctuary at the Roslyn Lake site.

There is still a lot of analysis to be done at the site, she said. The zoo plans to extend its current option to buy and make a decision by the end of 2015.

But Rahn said the Oregon Zoo will not take any steps toward development until it can determine a funding source to cover any future sanctuary’s operating costs.

“So we can make sure it’s sustainable long term,” Rahn said.