WL Paper opening 50 pay-to-park spots
When the West Linn Paper Company was still in business, its expansive parking lot adjacent to Willamette Falls Drive proved tantalizing for two cities — West Linn and Oregon City — that are often short on parking.
Chief Operating Officer Brian Konen was well aware of that desire for parking, and for a time he allowed the West Linn Police Department to use part of the lot before WLPD moved to a new station in the Willamette area. After that, West Linn Paper opted to use the space for its own needs — primarily as a staging area for its trucks.
Everything changed, of course, when the company suddenly closed in October 2017. Now, in the wake of bankruptcy court hearings, ownership of the parking lot has been transferred to lender Belgravia Pulp Holdings, which jumped at the opportunity to install 50 paid parking spaces that will soon be open to the public.
"Oregon City seems starved for parking — we see people come in and try to park on Mill Street," Konen said. "We'll see how much of a need there really is. A lot of people park and walk across the bridge to enjoy themselves in Oregon City, or they work there. ... People are always asking us for parking, so (Belgravia) said 'OK.'"
The spaces, which have already been lined and numbered, will be available through an app called PassportParking at a rate of $1 an hour. Frequent customers will have the option of adding money to a "wallet" on the app, and Konen said first-time users can receive a significant discount.
"It will be 50 percent off whatever you put in your wallet, probably for the first half of August," he said. "So for $20 you'll get $40 worth of parking."
In a July 19 memo to the City Council, City Manager Eileen Stein said West Linn Paper was not required to go through the land use approval process to add the pay-to-park spots. The 50 spots are considered a starting point, and Konen said the property could hold more than 100 spaces if there is a need and desire for them.
The City, for its part, hopes to eventually see redevelopment at the old city hall/police station, which is still City-owned. Parking has long been considered one of the roadblocks to that effort, and at a July 23 City Council meeting West Linn Parks and Recreation Director Ken Worcester said there was still some hope that spaces could be found on the West Linn Paper property.
"The good news is the mill only striped part of (the lot), and they didn't stripe the part that we've historically borrowed for parking," Worcester said. "So maybe that's a good sign."
"We'll see how it goes," Konen said. "There's more spaces than (50) but we think that'll be tough to fill that up for the time being."
Konen did not have an exact date for when the spaces would be officially available, but he expected it to be in the near future.