On deck Thursday afternoon is Item #414, the question of the demolition of the historic Washington Park Reservoirs. The City contends that the reservoirs are at risk of damage in potential landslides and that federal regulations require the reservoirs be covered or underground. The FriendsofReservoirs.org and many citizens are opposed to the demolition.
Critics argue that the federal mandate isn’t written in stone and that less expensive alternatives would be compliant with federal regulations. The reservoirs are listed with the National Register for Historical Places and many want to retain them for their historic significance. Demolition of the reservoirs could, in fact, render the land around them susceptible to landslide, one of the reasons some use to support demolition. Water bills have steadily increased over the years and the cost of this project is anticipated to be hundreds of millions of dollars and will certainly be passed on to ratepayers.
“The proposed replacement system includes a below-ground reservoir with a tiered reflecting pool in the same location and approximate footprint as the existing Reservoir 3 and a reflecting pool and stormwater swale in the location as the existing Reservoir 4 but with a reduced footprint.”
Per the ordinance, the process will be as follows: “This is the first reading of the proposed ordinance. If the Demolition Review is approved by Portland City Council, a Type 3 Land Use Review is still required, as well as building permit issuance for the new development, before a demolition permit will be released.”
Also: “The City Code requires City Council to hold a public hearing on the Demolition Review, and you will have the opportunity to testify at that hearing. City Council makes the final decision on this matter.”
The City of Portland makes a big deal about how they seek public involvement. Not an issue goes by that they don’t host a number of town halls or take hours of public testimony. However, when public sentiment goes against the wishes of whatever bureau is on, getting the City to actually listen is a gargantuan task. Write all the letters you want to individual commissioners, but a City Council hearing in front of the media is where you get their attention. Are you against the demolition of these historic reservoirs? Then head down to City Hall Thursday afternoon by 2 p.m.