Frustrated by inaction for county to turn Chapman Landing into a park, and for the convoluted way the property was transferred from the Port of St. Helens to the county, Scappoose City Councilors are taking a stand

Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge Can you imagine being able to ride your bike, or walk from town, down the Crown Zellerbach Trail to the river, where a park with picnic facilities and a dock accessing the river would be available for recreational opportunities?

The city of Scappoose hopes someday this will be possible.

Chapman Landing is located at the end of the Crown Zellerbach Trail. In 1996, the city, Columbia County and the Port of St. Helens pooled resources to purchase this property from Willamette Industries for the purpose of creating a linear trail and a waterfront recreation destination that would enhance the quality of life for Columbia County residents. The agreement granted the city the roadway, and the Port acquired the riverfront property known as Chapman Landing. This agreement stated that if the Port decided to dispose of the property, the Port would offer it to both the city and the county, and determine how best to transfer ownership.

In 2006, without gaining consent from the city, the Port gave the riverfront property to the county with the understanding the county would develop a park at the site. Not obtaining the consent of the city violated a Memorandum of Understanding between the three parties. Since that time, another decade has passed and the county has failed to make any improvements to the site, and has no plans to make any improvements anytime soon.

In the past two years, developing this park has been a priority goal for the city. The Scappoose City Council created a Chapman Landing Advisory Committee — which was chaired by former Columbia County Commissioner Tony Hyde and included representatives from Columbia County Parks and the Port — that examined the property and composed a plan for development. This plan was presented to the community at the annual town meeting, presented to the county commissioners, and subsequently included in the Scappoose Parks Master Plan. Approximately 92 percent of citizens surveyed supported seeing this property developed as a park.

The city also negotiated an agreement with the adjoining property owner to acquire approximately six acres abutting the riverfront property, which gives the public access from the county road that parallels the property boundary.

Over the past couple of years, the city has demonstrated its commitment to developing city parks and in acquiring grant funds to support this effort. We strongly believe Chapman Landing could be one of the crown jewels in the local parks system. For some reason, however, a majority of the county commissioners don't seem to share the city's enthusiasm to develop this property into a community asset. They have identified other projects they believe are a higher priority.

The city recently received a letter from the Columbia County commissioners expressing their non-support of transferring ownership of the property to the city. In the meantime, the property sits overgrown, neglected and idle. The city remains hopeful that someday the citizens of Scappoose will have a waterfront park.

In summary, the recent dedication of the Michael Curry fountain was the culmination of a partnership between the city, the Columbia County Rotary Club, the state of Oregon and numerous organizations and citizens who wanted to make their community a better place to live. Only by working together was this project possible.

We remain hopeful that we can spark the same enthusiasm with our Columbia County commissioners to develop a waterfront park that will benefit the citizens who we both serve.

Contract Publishing

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