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Hotel or campground? Ideas are many for Blue Heron property


Site planning on hold until summer

by:  VERN UYETAKE - The county is working with consultants  to begin remediation investigation for the West Linn Blue Heron property.Talks on the future of the West Linn Blue Heron property are being put on hold for a few months.

Though the Blue Heron Redevelopment Task Force met at the end of November, city staff members are now saying it will be months before remediation of the site can be determined.

West Linn Planning Director John Sonnen and Associate Planner Sara Javoronok met with Clackamas County officials this week to discuss the 39-acre site, which is near Willamette Park, bordering the Willamette River, and is the former property of the bankrupt Blue Heron Paper Company.

After Blue Heron declared bankruptcy, Clackamas County’s Water Environment Services purchased the site last spring for $1.75 million with interest in the site’s valuable outfall permits. Those permits will allow WES to release treated wastewater into the Willamette River. WES is working on behalf of the Tri-City Service District and Clackamas County Service District No. 1. CCSD #1 and the Tri-City Service District provide wastewater services to most of urbanized north Clackamas County.

The purchase includes the land and environmental assets, including not only the outfall into the Willamette River but also the pipes, easements and existing environmental permits. The districts will use the site’s outfall to meet the challenges of increasingly stringent rules regulating mixing zone and heat discharges into the Willamette River.

A small portion of the site will be reserved for future use by the two districts, while the remaining acreage will be available for other public uses as determined by the city of West Linn. Working with WES, the city of West Linn has drafted a work program for the creation of a master plan for the site.

The lagoon site contains a 15-acre settling pond, which currently has between 5 and 15 feet of sludge at the bottom. Wetlands and habitat conservation areas lie between the pond and the northern edge of the property, which is steeply sloped.

According to a memo from Javoronok to the task force, it will be several months before the city will know how the pond area can be remediated and made suitable for reuse.

WES will not officially take over the site until August, when NRI Global Inc., which purchased the mill’s equipment at the Oregon City property, will decommission the mill site.

In the meantime, West Linn and its residents have been brainstorming options for the site.

Over the course of six meetings, the task force identified a list of uses, totaling 11 options.

The task force outlines elements that should be incorporated into each scenario, including a river trail, river access, upland housing, public restrooms, wetlands, historical interpretive space and parking.

The scenarios include:

1. A passive park with a wildlife refuge, trails, picnic shelter and wetland bank.

2. An interpretive center tied to the geography and a place of scientific inquiry including a conference center, learning center, museum, coffee shop, canoe/kayak rentals and an enclosed meeting space.

3. A community center with an indoor/outdoor pool, sports courts, weight rooms and retail space.

4. An active park with playing fields over the pond area such as a field complex or sports complex and possibly disc golf.

5. An active park with one playing field, a skate park, picnic shelter, playground, disc golf, small amphitheater, dog park and a marina.

6. A campground with RV and tent sites, fishing docks, showers, general store/gift shop, rustic cabins, canoe/kayak rental, covered picnic area and a small meeting space.

7. Relocation of the public works and environmental services buildings.

8. Housing with high-end estate lots.

9. Model green housing with mixed income and affordable housing.

10. High-rise condos for senior living.

11. Commercial space for businesses such as medical, office, restaurants, bowling alley, warehouse, extended stay hotel, live-work space and small retail stores.

The next step in the county’s process with the site will likely not happen until this summer, which means the task force and city staff will not conduct any further planning until that time.

“It will be a few months before we’re able to come back to you with drawings and information on the feasibility of the scenarios for the site,” Javoronok wrote in her memo.