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Update posted at 3 p.m May 5

Sparks fly at council session

During the discussion about development of a riverfront business park during the St. Helens Council work session Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Rick Scholl ordered staff to mute Councilor Stephne Topaz during a portion of the public Zoom electronic meeting, Scholl saying Topaz was out of order

Topaz had been questioning the project and suggesting that the city's sewer plant would need to be moved for such development. Scholl said the plan did not have anything to do with the sewer plant. Read more in the May 12 print edition of The Chronicle.

Previous Chronicle coverage posted May 4

St. Helens city officials are looking at future major economic strength through development along the Willamette River.

Waterfront Redevelopment Plan

On Wednesday, May 5, the St. Helens City Council will review a request for qualifications for the St. Helens Industrial Business Park.

The St. Helens Industrial Business Park (SHIBP) is a 205-acre area, zoned for industrial uses, and situated along the banks of the Multnomah Channel of the Willamette River. The area is located at the former Boise White Paper Mill site and is identified as a brownfield.

The city is seeking qualifications from licensed professional engineering firms with the intent of contracting to submit all necessary permit applications and prepare design and construction documents, specifications, work schedules, construction cost estimates, and construction management services for the St. Helens Industrial Business Park infrastructure.

In the council's packet, planners state that city leaders and community members recognized the need for a change on the waterfront when two large wood product industries left the community after years of declining profitability.

After the closures, the city was left with hundreds of acres of industrial brown fields located on the Columbia River.

"As underutilized riverfront property zoned industrial, this property provides an incredible opportunity to transform the future of the City," the planners state in the packet outline.

Phased development approach

In the first step to attract industrial development to the riverfront, the city is seeking professional services to create an industrial subdivision for Phase 1 of the park.

Phase 1 would include design work for:

  • Transportation network and streetscape
  • Water
  • Sanitary Sewer
  • Stormwater management
  • Lot and right-of-way platting
  • Parcelization

The utility infrastructure design should be flexible and able meet the needs of a range of future users, the planning outline states. "The updated market analysis, included in the parcelization plan, indicates that smaller parcels of 2-5 acres with the potential to be combined into larger 10-20-acre parcels are desirable. This approach also provides the flexibility to accommodate a range of future industrial activities."

The planners state that the lack of access and infrastructure is the primary development challenge for matching potential users with the site. Most property lines and some rights-of-way will need to be created/reconfigured as well. The City expects to develop the site in a phased approach.

The city is also reviewing funding options for the industrial park development.

The City of St. Helens received a technical assistance grant from the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD)in 2019 to develop a master plan for the industrial park.

The SHIBP Master Plan assesses existing physical conditions and development barriers, summarizes pertinent information from previous plan documents and decisions, defines targeted industrial user types, and provides a framework for parcelization. Importantly, planners said, is the city also scoped this master plan to include a phased infrastructure funding plan.

"To date, we understand that the key development barriers in the SHIBP are its environmental, regulatory, and infrastructure conditions," the planners outline states. "The intent of this funding plan is to coordinate solutions to address infrastructure barriers by:

  • Clarifying how infrastructure will be delivered and funded.
  • Coordinating investment responsibilities across a range of public and private partners (i.e., those who will be involved in funding the capital projects needed to allow development of the SHIBP).
  • Identifying actions and funding resources to address the infrastructure needs in the SHIBP.

Read the full plan here and follow developments at thechronicleonline.com and in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.

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