Portland port won't seek to develop West Hayden Island

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Development still a possibility in the future, official says

PORTLAND — The Port of Portland won’t press its plan to develop deep-water marine terminals on West Hayden Island in the Columbia River, Executive Director Bill Wyatt said Wednesday.

For now, the decision brings an end to plans for developing part of an area that environmentalists described as irreplaceable habitat, with wetland, grassland, forest, beaches and shallow-water salmon habitat, The Oregonian reported. Some residents of the island also opposed development.

Wyatt said the idea wasn’t dead forever, though.

“This is a disappointing development,” Wyatt told the port’s commission Wednesday morning. “This is not a ‘no.’ It’s just ‘not now.’ ”

Plans called for 300 acres of auto and bulk-product marine terminal development and 500 acres for recreation and wildlife habitat.

In July, the city’s planning and sustainability commission recommended annexing the property, with mitigation steps that the port said would cost $30 million to $40 million and would put the price of the developable land at twice the cost of other industrial land in the region.

Wyatt said Wednesday that the city wouldn’t budge from its mitigation requirements.

The measures would include a health impact analysis, transportation and recreation assets, and mitigation for grasslands, forests and the flood plain.

“I was comfortable with what they came up with, and the port’s not,” said Mayor Charlie Hales. “So I think this is a case of reasonable people disagreeing about what the balance is between mitigation and development.”

“I’m very disappointed in the city of Portland,” said port Commissioner Tom Chamberlain, president of the Oregon AFL-CIO. He said West Hayden Island represented one of the area’s best opportunities to create jobs.

But Bob Sallinger, the conservation director of the Audubon Society of Portland, called the terms an attempt to make sure that the development itself bore the costs it entailed.

In the past, “neighbors have suffered tremendously and the environment has been degraded tremendously,” he said. “My hope was that West Hayden Island would mark a turning point where we would start holding industry more accountable.”