During his daily walks or bike rides through town, Wilsonville resident Jeff Redmon regularly encountered unsavory sights when he reached the former Fry's Electronics parking lot in Town Center. There was garbage strewn about, old mattresses discarded, unmaintained landscaping, needles, diapers and even human waste -- and people were also camping out at the site.
Since Fry's went out of business earlier this year, the property and its large parking lot have seemingly served as a dumping ground.
"You did business there and now all of the sudden your business is closed and your property becomes a wasteland. That's not OK. That's not the way we want this city to look and operate," Redmon said. "My biggest fear is that it took three months. That's too long."Â
A few months after Redmon brought up the issue with the city, the situation appears close to resolution. The owner and landlord, Lumberjack LP, put up a fence around the property Monday morning, Aug. 9, so people can't get in and further litter the place, and hired someone to clean up the mess. Clean-up work began over the weekend and should be wrapped up in the next couple days, Lumberjack LP representative Jeremy said.Â
Jeremy, who declined to give his last name, said the company wasn't aware of how bad it had gotten at the site and cited the responsibility for maintenance changing hands as a reason for the negligence.Â
"It changed hands so we lost sight of what may have been occurring there. I apologize for that," Jeremy said.Â
From the city's perspective, the reason it took months to get the situation resolved, according to attorney Barbara Jacobson, is that the owner was hard to get ahold of as it is not a local company. The city's code compliance officer also initially didn't have contact information for the right person, she added. However, Jacobson said that since she got in touch with management, the company has been responsive and moved the process forward.Â
"They've been cooperative. They haven't moved as fast as we wanted them to move. Since I started working with them they've called every day and are trying to get things done," she said.Â
The city also had limited recourse when it comes to enforcing cleanliness on private property.
The local government can charge businesses that endanger public health with code violations and it's up to the code compliance officer to determine if the severity of the violation warrants public action. Some nuisances, according to code, include sanitation, debris, food and improper garbage storage.Â
"Before we can do anything, it has to get pretty serious. We did this one based on the fact that it's so dry out and the weeds were getting really tall and people were complaining that it was a health hazard," Jacobson said.
She added that the city likely will not fine Lumberjack LP because they've been responsive since Jacobson got in contact with them.Â
Redmon worried that the mess would set a dangerous precedent where the owners of defunct establishments would neglect their properties. He hoped the city would tighten up its procedures to prevent a similar situation from dragging on for months. However, Redmon said the city did everything it could to address the issue and that his gripe is with Fry's, not the city.
"The reason I was on this thing so aggressively is because we were setting the stage for how this was going to be handled in the future," Redmon said.Â
Jacobson said she wasn't aware of the mess until two weeks ago and added the process had moved quickly since then.
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