Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis blistered Portland Mayor Charlie Hales this afternoon over his effort to place a 140-foot Portland emergency communications tower on a beloved Gresham butte called Walters Hill.
"I asked Mayor Hales by letter, email, and phone call to please slow down his thundering bureaucracy and consider partnering with us to find an alternative that protects public safety while also protecting the special places in our communities," Bemis said in a statement this afternoon.
"Initially it seemed that Mayor Hales was interested in working with us," Bemis went on, "but that is clearly not the case. This proposal does not represent a compromise; it represents a very large jurisdiction's refusal to believe that there could possibly be anything important outside of their municipal boundaries."
Portland filed for a land-use permit this afternoon for the tower, which is scaled down from a proposed 180 feet and would fill a radio dead zone for Portland's police and fire bureaus.
That unilateral move angered Bemis, who says Hales is ostensibly negotiating with Gresham while actually using its scenic vistas as a doormat.
His statement this afternoon borders on epic poetry.
"I was born at night, but not last night," Bemis continues. "Pursuing a highly objectionable option in the land-use process, and actually taking an objective step back to consider other possibilities are clearly mutually-exclusive. If they were serious about partnering together to find a viable alternative, they would have put the brakes on their Walters Hill proposal."
Hales' spokesman Dana Haynes says Portland's decisions are being driven by Gresham land-use deadlines—and by the actual lay of the land.
"We recognize Mayor Bemis' position on this one, and we're willing to mollify him," Haynes says. "Microwaves take line of sight. You gotta build 'em on the high ground. It would be nice to be able to change those physics. I don't think either of these two staffs are going to be able to do that."