|Vocational Village threatened with closure
Neighbors like proposed headquarters and dog park, but...
THE MID-COUNTY MEMO
The Madison South Neighborhood Association and residents living near Northeast 82nd Avenue and Schuyler Street seem to be pretty much of one mind about the Banfield Pet Hospital. They like the companys proposal to build a corporate headquarters on the site, preferring this to the housing development the site is zoned for. They especially like Banfields offer to devote two acres of the site to a fenced off-leash dog park free and open to all. They are impressed with Kurt Campbell and other company representatives who have come to community meetings and distributed flyers in the area.
However, they are concerned that all this may come at the expense of the current occupant of the site: Vocational Village alternative public high school.
The Banfield Corporation began in the neighborhood and has grown into a national chain, with 300 facilities and plans to open new outlets in other countries. The company has outgrown its current headquarters near Portland International Airport, and feels the vocational village property would be ideal, Campbell says. He also thinks it would be a good deal for the surrounding community.
Were not about controversy, Banfields Kelly Orfield told the Madison South board last month. If this isnt a win-win situation were not interested and will move on. However, in flyers distributed in the area, they argue that their proposal is preferable to the likely alternatives: A large-scale housing project, a strip mall, or letting the land lie vacant and neglected for years. (The strip mall proposal is highly unlikely. The property is currently zoned for residential development, and Banfield will need a Comprehensive Plan amendment for their project. Campbell says he has received encouragement from Mayor Verz Katzs office.)
Madison South officials say they are impressed with the Banfield representatives and agree with their assessment on the best use of the property - with one reservation.
Left with no vocation
The Portland School District has for several years been discussing the idea of disposing of surplus property to gain cash and cut maintenance costs. High on the list is Vocational Village, an alternative high school that teaches work skills to students who havent succeeded in more traditional schools. District spokesperson Kerry Hampton says the property, the former Glenhaven School, has been considered for surplus designation for a year and a half. An assessment found that it did not meet current seismic building standards, and concluded, It would not be a prudent use of funds to make these improvements to this building. The matter will be considered at a series of meetings culminating in an August 25 board meeting at which a vote to declare the property surplus, a prelude to sale, will be taken.
Village supporters such as teacher Lynda Darling say the district is jumping the gun and not playing fair. Although the matter has been talked about for more than a year, she says, the formal process is taking place in July and August - the worst possible time to secure public involvement - and the first board hearing will be at noon on August 11, a Monday. There are issues the district has failed to consider, she says, such as whether upgrading the existing building would be less expensive than the cost of moving the program. Speaking of the programs past in the Sellwood neighborhood she says, We spent years in a building with a leaking roof, and they werent so concerned about our welfare then.
Darling and other teachers say the real issue for them is not whether they stay at the Glenhaven building. Yes, we know we have to move, but the district hasnt found a suitable place to send us, she says. So far the alternatives mentioned have been unused parts of Benson, Jefferson or Marshall high schools, where Vocational Village students are likely to feel and be treated as second class, she says. Our school is the only one of its kind, she adds.
Darling, like all the Villages proponents, says she has no personal beef with the Banfield Corporation. (Campbell, in addressing Madison South, said, We are interested in the property if, and only if, Vocational Village is declared surplus.) However, she thinks the district is so intrigued by the companys offer that they are rushing through the assessment process. Then theyll have a deadline to meet and theyll be forced to move us anywhere, whether its suitable or not, she says. The priority should be finding an alternative site, not completing the deal.
MEMO Advertising | MEMO Archives | MEMO Web Neighbors | MEMO Staff | Home