Oregon town feeling ignored on future of depot

SUNDAY, AUG. 8, 2010

IRRIGON, Ore. — The city manager of Irrigon says the town has been overlooked in the planning for future uses of the nearby Umatilla Chemical Depot after its stockpile of obsolete Cold War weapons is destroyed.

Jerry Breazeale said the town wants to team with the communities in the region to promote economic development and job creation and had prepared a notice of interest about acquiring some depot land for development.

But he said the notice to the group in charge, Local Reuse Authority, was ranked last among 12 projects.

He included a copy of that vote, and a chronology of the city’s efforts to have the authority recognize its application, in a letter sent this week to LRA members.

LRA members denied that Irrigon was treated unfairly.

“I feel the reuse plan adopted last week is the best for everyone in this area, Oregon and the nation,” said George Anderson, an attorney who has been involved with depot issues for more than two decades. “I also feel the city of Irrigon was given a fair hearing at all stages of the process.”

In its request, the town asked for two miles of the depot for use as industrial land, as well as plans that would allow access from the Union Pacific Railroad’s main line to rail lines on the depot; a proposed wind project and possible solar project; storage; and agriculture use on Army land outside the depot.

Three of the six subcommittee members — Rod Skeen, of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Gary Neal, of the Port of Morrow, and Kim Puzey, of the Port of Umatilla — gave zero points to Irrigon’s notice.

“There is no way that the NOI could receive a zero unless the proposal was blank,” Breazeale said.

Puzey noted that Irrigon already was represented on the LRA by Morrow County and the Port of Morrow. Irrigon Mayor David Burns said Irrigon tried to cooperate with members, but couldn’t get through.

“The cities have come out on the short end on this thing,” Burns said.


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