Readers Respond to Derelict Boats Moored Along Ross Island

“What if you or I threw up our hands and permitted cars, vans, RVs, etc., all over our private property? We’d get more than a stern finger-wag from local authorities and law enforcement.”

Among the summer “beach reading” WW delivered last week, one tale drew the most impassioned response: the explanation why dozens of junk boats are moored in Toe Island Cove, an inlet along the shore of Ross Island (“The Secret of Toe Island Cove,” Aug. 3). Derelict vessels gather at this spot in the Willamette River, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office says, because law enforcement holds little power there. The island is owned by pensioners of Ross Island Sand & Gravel, an R.B. Pamplin Corp. holding. And private ownership of the waterway limits the sheriff’s authority to tag and tow boats. Here’s what our readers had to say.

Tony Clifton, via wweek.com: “Pamplin is 100% responsible for the mess and the cleanup. Fine them. Take them to court. If this were private property on land, the owners are held responsible. Same should apply to the waterways that are ‘privately’ owned. Pamplin extracted their fortunes from the river, and now they pass the mess and financial burden onto the taxpayers.

“What if you or I threw up our hands and permitted cars, vans, RVs, etc., all over our private property? We’d get more than a stern finger-wag from local authorities and law enforcement.”

Sneakyness, via Twitter:Waterworld is happening in the Willamette River and it kind of kicks ass.”

Kurts, via wweek.com: “The strategy here is pretty self-evident. The state or whoever wants a company that no longer exists to pay millions of dollars to put back the rock that it mined over many decades, effectively undoing everything it ever did. Short of tearing down fifty Memorial Coliseums and putting the concrete back in the river, there is no way that will ever happen. So Pamplin holds the prime riverfront real estate and the potentially beautiful island hostage and allows a bunch of meth-addled pirates to trash the place until the someone convinces Multnomah County voters to pay the low-low price of 5 cents per thousand (say, $325 million) to buy it and declare it a natural area. (Of course, we will then need another $80 million to hire unarmed, sensitivity-trained park rangers to try and convince the pirates to leave voluntarily and offer them life coaches—but never mind that for now.)

“Portland should cut its losses and offer Pamplin $10 million for the whole shebang, including the sites along 99E. Redevelop the area now, put up some nice concrete apartment towers and a park, and let the island exist as it sits, minus the pirates, maybe add a few thousand yards of beach sand. What is the point of keeping this going for 20 years?”

Hans, via email: “Just curious why the story includes no stated attempt to interview the ‘transient boaters’ in the headline or actual interviews with them. Seems like a huge gap in the story, or am I way adrift?”

HegemonNYC, via Reddit: “That’s a funny little spot. In some ways, it’s one of the nicest views and location for a ‘houseboat’ in town. Your neighbors are all ho-boats, but the view can’t be beat. Way better than an RV on 115th and Foster.”

loose aggregate of related concerns, via Twitter: “Weird how a city with a major housing crisis has an issue with informal settlements on the water as well as on land.”

Doooofus, via wweek.com: “Wow, a 130-feet-deep hole protected by the river currents? It should become a scuba diving theme park.”

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