January 4th, 2010 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Sports, City Hall

Mayor's Staff Insists Construction Risk Falls on Paulson

Ruiz, Miller, Adams
The new resolution Mayor Sam Adams will bring to City Council on Wednesday will allow Merritt Paulson, owner of the Portland Timbers and Beavers, to begin limited construction at PGE Park immediately -- before the city inks a final financial agreement with Paulson and his Peregrine LLC.

The mayor's office calls this work "non-construction" because it's "stuff that can be done that can be undone."

Last Thursday, WW talked with the mayor's spokesman, Roy Kaufmann, and Adams staffer Amy Ruiz about the proposal. (The mayor was on vacation.) Here's the exchange:

WW: Why is the city proposing this new resolution without a financial agreement in place?

Kaufmann: All this work actually falls under the risk of Peregrine. We're moving forward because we're still trying to adhere to the construction schedule that would allow a 2011 season opening. But all the work that's happening is happening with the risk assumed by Peregrine.

WW: Why are there objections from the City's own employees then?

Kaufmann: I'm not sure what you're referring to.

WW: Are you saying there are no objections?

Ruiz: Who are these people who are concerned? We haven't heard that.

Kaufmann: We are moving forward because it gets us closer to a definitive agreement. It also allows all parties to try to hit the construction deadline. And it continues to put the risk on Peregrine instead of the city.

WW: So if there is no final financial agreement, Paulson has no way to hold the city responsible for the costs associated with this?

Kaufmann: Correct.

Ruiz: This revocable permit expires Feb. 15 if not sooner, and it very clearly says that if we don't have a definitive legal agreement by then this thing is over and he has to put everything back the way it was.

WW: So you are expecting a final financial agreement by Feb. 15?

Ruiz: Yes.

WW: What are the sticking points still holding up a final agreement? Back in October there was no agreement on a number of issues.

Ruiz: I wouldn't say that there are any sticking points. I would say, as with any long and complicated legal agreement, there's a lot of back-and-forth about the final details in preparation to file it for council.

WW: So how will the City and Paulson share money from the Providence health clinic at PGE Park?

Ruiz: I haven't been in the room that's going over it.

WW: With all due respect, then, how then can you say there are no sticking points?

Ruiz: Because that's what I've been told.

Kaufmann: The fact that we don't have a definitive agreement means there are still a few issues we need to work out. The fact that both parties are willing to move forward with the resolution honestly signals to us that Merritt has a lot of faith and confidence in the process or else he wouldn't be willing to take on the risk, the financial risk, to do these pre-phase efforts.

Photos above (of Ruiz, Adams chief of staff Tom Miller and Adams) by Vivian Johnson
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