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Vol. 20, No. 6 • Mailed monthly to over 12, 400 homes in the Gateway & Parkrose Communities Free • OCTOBER 2004
FEATURE ARTICLES Memo Calendar Memo Pad Business Memos Loaves & Fishes Letters Home
Married 60 years, Herb and Ruby Cass cultivate their hobbies together, individually
Sheriff’s office sale moves forward amid debate
City proposes neighbor-hood association rule changes
Photos wanted for
Aging gracefully
Sharon Owen leaves Hazelwood

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Married 60 years, Herb and Ruby Cass cultivate their hobbies together, individually

Mid-County residents Ruby and Herb Cass recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. See MEMO PAD story here. As the MEMO, likes to say, “To fully serve the community, the Mid-county MEMO offers our MEMO PAD to showcase upcoming special events and celebrations of milestones in our readers’ lives, those seemingly small accomplishments that often do not receive the recognition they deserve, and everyday events that should be shared with readers and friends.”

Sheriff’s office sale moves forward amid debate

Hansen Building called ‘surplus’ as Rockwood battles new Justice Center

The Mid-county MEMO

Last month’s East Multnomah County Justice Facility Work Group meeting was a hot affair, with Rockwood residents attacking and Multnomah County officials defending plans for a new Justice Center.

Amid the debate, the group passed what was, for those present, the only non-controversial item on the agenda: a resolution to declare the Hansen Building - the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office at 12240 N.E. Glisan St. - and the former Edgefield properties “surplus,” and to put them up for sale. The most likely buyer for the Hansen Building would be the Ron Tonkin auto dealership.

Of course, before this last can happen, the county would have to at least finalize plans for a replacement building, and if the group’s September meeting is an indication, this will take some doing.

Doug Butler, Multnomah County facilities manager, told the Memo that no date has been set for a County Commission hearing on the resolution, and that it is not likely to happen soon.

Under a proposal by County Commissioner Lonnie Roberts, the two property sales would help finance a new Justice Center. Located somewhere in the city of Gresham, the building would be 72,000 square feet and contain a sheriff’s office, Gresham city police office, six courtrooms for traffic-related hearings and trials, and holding cells. The total cost is estimated at $15 million, of which $10 million are expected to come from the surplus sales.

A key issue at this point is the location of the new building. County planners want something within four blocks of the TriMet MAX light rail line to allow public access for non-drivers. Officials originally considered 35 sites, and have whittled these down to seven. Officially, “nothing has been decided.” Unofficially, the Rockwood Triangle, a former Fred Meyer store on Southeast Stark Street at 185th Avenue, seems to be a favorite. It meets most of the criteria for such a facility - among other things it is immediately adjacent to a MAX stop - and one in particular: it is within an urban renewal district, and therefore there is a potential source of funds for at least part of the missing $5 million.

At last month’s meeting, business and banking representatives invited by Roberts said a justice center in the Triangle would counter severe public safety problems. One said, “I’ve seen businesses going downhill. I’m betting a police presence would attract additional buildings, job creation.”

Mark Joseph, owner of Lydia’s Restaurant, said, “There’s no way today you’d let your children roam Rockwood alone in the daytime.” He blamed the problem on a proliferation of low-income housing in the area.

Tony Riccia of Sterling Savings said the MAX lines “brings people to the area, but not always the kind of people you want.” Vacant buildings “attract homeless individuals.” Referring to the Hansen building he said, “I’ve heard a lot of talk about how happy the people there were to see that come.”

Developer Fred Bruning said the Fred Meyer store was closed, in part, because “the shrinkage rate was in double digits, the highest in the chain.” He said that there were currently “sub-human conditions” in the Hansen building and, like many others who spoke, said there needed to be a sense of safety in Rockwood to attract investment. However, he added, there also needed to be a “broader vision. Just to put a Justice Center in Freddy’s would be a terrible mistake.”

Residents said the Rockwood Community Plan called for a Rockwood Commons at the Triangle that would include some kind of police facility - but not a courthouse. They also objected to taking what is now private property off the tax rolls.

Theresa Kaminsky said, “I say to business owners, don’t sell yourselves cheap. We could turn this area into a money-maker instead of giving it away.” Using urban renewal funds for this project would mean “less money for things that could help the community,” she said. The plans for Rockwood Commons called for “a community center, not a justice center,” she said. “A police precinct is what we wanted.” Noting the plans for holding cells, she said, “They will hold criminals and when they’re time is done, they’ll walk out into whose community?”

She complained that in the siting process so far, the county “never once asked us, who busted our humps for this plan, never once asked us to this table.” Turning to Gresham City Council member Jacquenette Josefa McIntire, Kaminsky said, “You assured me you didn’t intend to take the Triangle site for this. Were you lying to my face or did you just forget?”

Momentarily speechless, McIntire responded, “I’m offended by your accusation.” What she had meant, she said, was that there had been no decision to use this specific site, that it was one of several under consideration. “We’re a siting committee,” she said. “Why not do this if it saves money?”

While McIntire, Roberts and other officials insist there has been no decision about the new building’s site or composition, they made no such protestations about the need to get rid of the Hansen Building. Roberts’ aide Gary Walker said, “The Hansen Building has to be replaced. We spend $330,000 just to maintain it. The sheriff will have to deal with it at some point, and he’d spend a gazillion dollars just to make it useable.” Sale of the Hansen and Edgefield properties would “put 75 acres back on the tax rolls.” He added, “We have an interested party who would love to purchase the land for an optimal fee.”

Architect Vern Allman said that to renovate the Hansen building, including making it meet seismic regulations, “would cost just as much as building brand new.”
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