Some clarification is needed if your readers are to understand the issues surrounding the reuse of Memorial Coliseum [The Nose, WW, May 28, 2003].
In the early 1990s, the City of Portland entered into a series of agreements with Oregon Arena Corporation (OAC) which resulted in the development of Rose Garden, parking structures, streets and improvement to Memorial Coliseum (MC). Total project costs were about $275 million, and the public share was $44 million, or only 16 percent.
As part of the agreements, OAC agreed to manage and operate MC, share any profits with the City and absorb all operating losses. For the past four years, MC has been losing money, and OAC has fully covered these losses.
The city is responsible for all capital improvements to the 40-year-old MC. It will need upwards of an $8 million investment for it to remain a viable spectator area.
Also, as part of these agreements, OAC was granted certain development rights if the City declared MC available for non-public-use development.
In September 2002, Portland Development Commission led a study of the Rose Quarter to find ways to stimulate further development in the district. Supported by a broad-based citizens committee, a Preferred Vision was defined which included better connections to the river and adjacent neighborhoods, mixed-use developments and the removal of Memorial Coliseum. When this study was presented to City Council in the fall of 2001, the mayor spoke strongly in support of retaining MC and looking for opportunities to make better use of the building.
The Office of Management and Finance's study of alternative public uses for MC is near completion, and a public meeting has been scheduled for June 18. OAC has developed a private-use alternative that will be considered alongside the public-reuse options.
In reviewing the marketing and management practices of OAC as part of the reuse study, an independent consultant concluded that OAC is fulfilling its obligations under the city agreements and continues to actively market MC as a key part of the Rose Quarter complex.
Neither the mayor nor the City Council has made any commitments to the future of Memorial Coliseum. The mayor and council want to see the public-reuse study completed, including input from the public. The mayor is also forming an advisory group to provide additional evaluation. The council will deliberate and decide on a future course for the building by late summer.
By no means is this "thing all but wired," as your recent column suggests.
Spectator Facilities Manager
City of Portland
The Nose responds: The Nose stated in his column that he understood Mayor Vera Katz to be intrigued with the idea, proposed by Paul Allen's Oregon Arena Corp., of turning Memorial Coliseum into a giant Home Depot. He did so based on conversations with people inside and outside City Hall. After his column was published, the mayor called and spoke with a colleague of the Nose's, saying that it was too early for her to have an opinion one way or the other. The Nose apologizes for jumping the gun.
SHOT IN THE DARK
"Anatomy of a Police Shooting" [WW, June 4, 2003] was an astonishing piece of journalism. In the middle of what appeared to be a plainspoken distillation of the actual facts of the case, Nick Budnick tossed in an extraordinarily naive opinion that was based on mere potentiality. While addressing the question of whether Officer Scott McCollister's fear of being run over justified shooting the driver, who was attempting to elude the police, Budnick blew his own credibility to hell. He pointed out that the officer was able to safely extricate himself from the vehicle after having shot the crack-addict driver, "which suggests that he would have survived uninjured even if he had not shot James."
I don't expect this missive to shake Budnick's rock-solid faith in the goodness of his fellow man, but apparently crack addicts and other criminals attempting to elude the police often hit the gas after putting their car into drive. Jeez, haven't you ever watched an episode of Cops? Given the events up to the moment of the shooting, Officer McCollister could only expect to survive uninjured if the driver did not accelerate. He obviously had no faith in her inherent goodness, and I can't blame him.
Second-guessing police actions when scofflaws do things to get themselves killed is a favorite pastime of some Portlanders. If Nick Budnick insists on presenting merely potential events, I think it would be more journalistically honest to present a more balanced roster of possibilities.
Northeast 33rd Avenue