Mount Tabor reservoir decision pushed 3 weeks

Reservoirs discussion has been contentious

Mt. Tabor Reservoir in Portland, Nov. 18, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Mt. Tabor Reservoir in Portland, Nov. 18, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — On Thursday, the city council held one of its final hearings on the controversial future of Portland’s open air water reservoirs. While they decided to move forward with plans to demolish reservoirs in Washington Park, a final decision on what will happen to those in Mount Tabor has been delayed once again.

It’s an issue controversial enough — the arguments heated enough — that for the second time, security was tight and police were present at city hall.

“There is no evidence of any thoughtful consideration of the issues,” Floy Jones with Friends of the Reservoirs told KOIN 6 News. “What is most significant with the water bureau is always what they don’t tell you.”

The city has plans to demolish the historic reservoirs at Washington Park and build new underground tanks in their place. They also plan to disconnect the Mount Tabor reservoirs, and on Thursday, they debated how much it will cost and who will pay to keep them filled with water — just for looks.

Surprisingly, after years of heated debate, the Mount Tabor Neighborhood Association and water bureau announced they are close to a compromise.

“Our goal is to protect the park and protect the reservoirs, both of which are on the national historic register, and keep the views Mount Tabor was built with, the views it has today,” John Laursen with Mount Tabor Neighborhood Association said.

The decisions all go back to federal government rules, which say Portland must cover the reservoirs or treat the water in them. Opponents argue the city didn’t do enough to fight the federal rules, and they want the city to wait on making any decision until next year when the EPA could revise the rule.

At the very least, opponents say, the city should preserve these historic structure and major park attractions.

The city council voted to move forward with the Washington Park demolition plans on Thursday. They also decided to give the water bureau and Mount Tabor Neighborhood Association 3 more weeks to finish up a compromise regarding what will happen to the reservoir after it is disconnected.

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