Long-term West Hayden Island plan eyed

Portland officials hope to build marine terminal

By Courtney Sherwood, Columbian freelance writer

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There’s no budget, no timeline and no big businesses yet interested in locating to West Hayden Island.

But sometime in the next ten to 20 years, city of Portland and Port of Portland officials hope to build a 300-acre marine terminal on the Oregon island that includes Jantzen Beach.

They’re seeking public feedback now on a pair of highly tentative, hypothetical plans outlining possible approaches to future development. Each option would set aside about 500 acres of open space, which would include bird and fish habitat, as well as room for recreation. Both also include a marine terminal that could handle auto, grain or bulk shipments.

And neither is likely to reflect what development will actually ultimately look like, said Eric Engstrom, principal planner with Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. The plans just show two of the many ways that West Hayden Island could some day be configured.

“We’re trying to get a handle on the choices we need to make,” Engstrom said.

In the coming year, the biggest decision is whether to annex the area into Portland city limits, a necessary precursor to industrial development of the land. Some environmentalist groups oppose annexation, among them the Audubon Society of Portland, which wants to protect West Hayden Island’s role as a safe haven for birds. Audubon’s concerns helped scuttle earlier plans for West Hayden Island, which would have developed twice as much land for industrial use.

Residents of Hayden Island have also raised concerns about whether future development would bring unwanted traffic and noise to their neighborhoods.

But with industrial land at a premium in the greater metro area, Portland officials hope to overcome objections and lay the groundwork for annexing West Hayden Island by mid-2012.

Developing the site, which is owned by the Port of Portland, would likely take another decade or longer. It would depend on final details of the Columbia River Crossing Interstate 5 Bridge project, plus the outcome of ongoing discussions about whether to add a second truck-and-car bridge between mainland Portland and Hayden Island.

Beyond that, it could take as much as a decade for the port to recruit a tenant once rough plans are in place, and then another three to four years to obtain federal permits to build, Engstrom said.

In part because of the time and complexity involved in developing new industrial marine sites, Port of Vancouver officials say they don’t see the Port of Portland’s efforts as infringing on their niche.

Currently, the Port of Portland specializes in container shipping, while Vancouver’s port’s strengths lie in autos, grains and bulk — just what the West Hayden Island site would likely handle.

“There is such a need for additional industrial land, especially marine deep-water, that it’s good for the region,” said Theresa Wagner, Port of Vancouver spokeswoman. “Strengthening the region is good for everyone.”

Portland officials will take questions and solicit feedback about options for West Hayden Island development at two upcoming open houses: 5-8 p.m. Oct. 12, with a 6:30 p.m. presentation, at the Portland Expo Center, rooms 202 and 204 of Hall D; and 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 15, with a 10 a.m. presentation, at the Hayden Island Oxford Suites Hotel, 12226 N. Jantzen Drive, Portland. They’ve posted planning documents and other information at http://bit.ly/pJedKO.