There is no shortage of reasons Mayor Sam Adams deserves scrutiny as he races to close the deal on a new Major League Soccer team at PGE Park and a new minor-league baseball stadium at the Rose Quarter.
His initial embrace of a plan to tear down Memorial Coliseum for the baseball stadium was hasty and high-handed. He also won’t pin down a price on the project. “I’m not willing to speculate,” he says. “I’ve been down that path before.”
But on Monday, Adams’ desperation to seal a deal in the Rose Quarter reached a Roguish low when he told the volunteer Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Advisory Committee he wanted to “study” extending Interstate’s boundaries to encompass the Rose Quarter.
The goal? To tap the $335 million in the district to help pay for redevelopment south of Broadway, an area six blocks from the Interstate zone. The reason? The Oregon Convention Center Urban Renewal Area, which encompasses the Rose Quarter, expires in 2013, and it’s supposed to pay for other big-ticket items, like Adams’ “headquarters hotel.”
Julie Metcalf-Kinney, a committee volunteer, says Adams’ “study” is disingenuous. “We’ve heard these words before, ‘We’re just going to study it,’” Metcalf-Kinney says.
But she isn’t upset about the process. She’s upset about the predicted outcome: Affordable housing projects, like the one on North Killingsworth Street and Interstate Avenue in the district Adams is now “studying,” will stall if the district’s money is drained to redevelop the Rose Quarter, she says. And that’s an uncomfortable repetition of the Rose Quarter’s history of displacing an entire neighborhood of minority homeowners when it was built. “It’s a dishonor to the memory of what they took the first time,” says Metcalf-Kinney, a member of the Upper Skagit Tribe.
Adams says he shares the committee’s concerns about justice. Until he demonstrates that, the Rogue Desk is maintaining Metcalf-Kinney’s skepticism.