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After years of negotiations, Scappoose set to acquire waterfront park site from Columbia County

"All I can say is thank goodness," Scappoose City Councilor Joel Haugen said with a chuckle, as he and fellow councilors voted Tuesday, Feb. 19, to approve a land transfer deal with Columbia County to acquire Chapman Landing.

SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - A years-long effort by the city of Scappoose to obtain ownership of Chapman Landing for development as a waterfront park came to fruition Tuesday, Feb. 19, with the finalization of a land transfer agreement with Columbia County.  The waterfront recreation area at the butt of the Crown Zellerbach Trail in Scappoose is expected to be officially transferred to the city this spring, after more than a year of negotiations with the county.

"The first thing that's probably going to happen is a little bit of planning to see what we need to do to the site," Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge said Tuesday evening.

The City Council met in executive session to discuss the property transfer before reconvening in open session to approve a final version of a contract with the county.

According to the contract stipulations, the city of Scappoose must turn the area into a public park and have made significant headway on getting the land rezoned for use as a public recreation area within two years.

Scappoose asked the county to repair JP West Road, which adjoins the scenic property, before handing it over to the city. That didn't happen, but Columbia County agreed to give the city $60,000 to do repairs and maintenance on the road.

"They acknowledged their roads crews are really busy, so they agreed to give us $60,000 to have our crew do it," Burge said.

Scappoose first officially reached out to the county to ask that ownership of the vacant parcel and former logging trail be transferred to the city back in 2016, after the city purchased a piece of land abutting the site.

The county initially rejected the city's request, and both entities have been in back and forth negotiations since then.

Scappoose city leaders lobbied the county aggressively for Chapman Landing, saying the county failed to do anything with the site for more than a decade. Once the site transfer is complete, the city hopes to develop Chapman Landing as a waterfront park.

"We are excited for this partnership and this transaction," Columbia County Commissioner Alex Tardif said by phone Thursday, noting the need for additional recreational space in the wake of the loss of access to much of the county's timberlands. "It's a mutually beneficial agreement. The city has made parks their project. We as a county don't have the capacity to turn that into a park anytime soon."

Tardif noted that, in exchange for the land, the city will take over maintenance on three roads that were previously the county's responsibility.

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