The Daily Journal of Commerce – Oregon, a Portland paper devoted to development, published an article by Nick Bjork about the controversial expansion plans for the Riverfront Research Park here in Eugene.
Interviewed for the article, Diane Wiley, Director of the Research Park, reveals the true motive for placing ORI on the riverfront before the 1989 plan finally expires in 2012:
“This project fits in with what we outlined for this park originally, and even though it’s been a long time, it will help lead the way for more development in the park,” Wiley said.
Connecting Eugene has long warned that the current proposal to put a private office building and parking lot for ORI directly on the riverfront would literally pave the way for more developments in that area. The university is working under a mid-1980s plan to construct private office buildings and parking infrastructure in the publicly-owned open space that now flanks the south bank of the Willamette River.
The article also outlines a few of the important views held by many students and faculty of the University that are opposed to the ORI project, as well as by the members of Connecting Eugene:
“According to Paul Cziko, a biology graduate student at UO and a cosponsor of a University Senate resolution to oppose the development process, said his main gripe is that the property is one of only a few riverfront parcels near campus and should be reserved for a better use. Cziko said the lot should become a public gathering place for students, and not an office building surrounded by parking structures.”
“We are not anti-development,” he said. “We just think that the public needs to be involved in this development, as it’s stated in the (intergovernmental agreement).”
“We are talking about building on publicly-owned, open, riverfront space within the urban core,” he said. “At the very least this is the type of project that needs public oversight.”
[Note: there is one typo in the article: The rental income that the consultant estimated the University could receive for the riverfront property is $250,000 per year, not $25,000 - the lower value is effectively what they'd be receiving from Trammell Crow under the current lease].