Our opinion: Kudos to neighbors rallying to preserve Alpenrose
Alpenrose Dairy has been a popular venue for athletes and families for generations. Now it's likely to disappear for good and likely will be replaced with a neighborhood of single-family housing.
But a coalition of neighbors around the Southwest Portland site are striving to preserve some of the amenities at the popular 52-acre site west of Southwest Shattuck Road — right by Beaverton city limits, and just north of the Hillsdale/Multnomah Village area — such as Oregon's only velodrome, or bike-racing track, and Little League ballfields.
We hope Portland's elected officials, and the eventual developers, listen to these neighbors and save what they can. And we urge local agencies — in Portland and beyond — to get behind this effort.
We editorialized about saving some of Alpenrose in April 2021, but it's worth repeating.
Alpenrose was never 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. 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 no more.
The dairy itself has 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.
There is no question that Portland — and the entire metro area — has a shortage of housing. A new neighborhood, built on that site, would help address that shortage. But the goals of more housing, and keeping these iconic treasures, aren't mutually exclusive.
We hope the eventual developer is amenable to working with the neighbors.
And we urge some combination of the following governments to get a plan together to save portions of 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 save, and run, some of these facilities, the cost per resident would be pennies per year, because the larger the pool 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 a wide array of sporting apparel companies including such powerhouses like Columbia Sportswear, Nike, Adidas, Under Armor and more. Would any of these heavy 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's worth looking into.
Neighbors are on the right track, arguing that it can be a new development but keeping some elements of the past. That sort of compromise position now needs the backing of elected officials and parks-and-rec experts.
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 all parties to come together for a solution.
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