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Portland's iconic sports and entertainment site, including its velodrome and baseball fields, cannot disappear.

PMG PHOTO: ALVARO FONTAN - Pamplin Media Group urges local governments to come up with a plan to save Alpenrose Dairy, and to enlist the aid of the state's burgeoning sports apparel sector and/or Tillamook Dairy, in the process.Alpenrose Dairy has been a popular Portland venue for athletes and families for generations. Now it's likely to disappear for good, and any combination of local governments — along with some suggested private companies — should step in to save the site.

As reported by journalists Nick Budnick, Paul Danzer and Alvaro Fontan in the April 21 Tribune, a bitter intra-family struggle broke out publicly and in the courts over the future of Alpenrose Dairy, the popular 52-acre site west of Shattuck Road near the Beaverton border and just north of the Hillsdale/Multnomah Village area. It wasn't just a dairy. It was a Christmastime car-ride tradition for families, a haven for serious bicyclists, a regular haunt for ESPN camera crews and national Little League tournaments, and more. For generations of metro-area families, Alpenrose was woven into the fabric of their lives. Today, the Alpenrose Velodrome that was a prominent feature for the Portland biking community is barricaded and closed down —apparently for good. The Little League ball fields and midget racing track used by many kids and families are silent. Dairyville, the kid-friendly, Hollywood-style "set" used for clubs and community events, is fenced off to the public. The Portland Opera House — the 600-seat playhouse used by schools and seniors for years — is being dismantled. And the dairy facility that employs about 160 people is still operating, but the new owners are looking to relocate.

It's been part of the Portland scene since 1891 when Florian Cadonau began delivering milk to downtown Portland. In the 1950s, a grandson built the ball fields, Dairyville, the opera house, model railroad clubs and other features. The midget race track and bike racing track, or velodrome, followed.

Now it could all go away.

We could continue calling this a "dairy," but the fact of the matter is that it's been a privately held park and recreation facility. And it's surrounded by agencies who do "parks" and "recreation" exceptionally well.

We urge some combination of the following governments to get a plan together to save the sports and family-centric portions of the site:

• The city of Portland, and Portland Parks & Recreation.

• The massive Tualatin Hills Parks & Recreation District, which serves much of Washington County. THPRD's district shares a border with Alpenrose.

• Metro, the regional government that buys and maintains park spaces throughout the urban tri-county area.

• Multnomah and Washington counties.

If any or all these agencies pooled their expertise and pitched a bond measure to buy and run the facilities, the cost-per-resident would be pennies per year, because the larger the field of property owners paying for a bond measure, the less each property owner contributes.

Need some extra resources? Oregon's own Tillamook Dairy has been working on a nationwide branding effort. And the metro area has become home to such a wide array of sporting apparel companies that one of the state's key industries is labeled Outdoor Gear & Activewear, according to the state agency Business Oregon, accounting for 417 firms, almost 13,000 employees, export values of $311 million and sales of $5.2 billion (the figures come from several reporting years). We're talking powerhouses like Columbia Sportswear, Nike, Adidas, Under Armor, Leatherman, Keen, Pendleton, Danner and much more. Would any of these big-hitters have an interest in branding opportunities at an internationally televised Little League Softball World Series or one of the Northwest's few canted velodromes? It seems likely.

To say nothing of the Christmas and Fourth of July memories families have garnered at Dairyville, or the 600-seat opera house, used by seniors agencies and theater organizations for decades.

Alpenrose Dairy has been a vital part of Portland almost as long as there's been a Portland. It cannot be allowed to simply evaporate. We urge a consortium of local governments to put their heads together and make this happen.

Play ball!


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