Photo by Garth GuibordFire District proposes Dorman property as site for new station posted on 03/01/2023
The future of the Dorman Center property in Welches has
remained undecided since the failure of the Hoodland Park District Ballot
Measure in June 2022. Scotch Broom and other invasive species have begun to
stake their claim on the property in the meantime, as Clackamas County weighs
options for the site's use.
The Hoodland Fire District (HFD) presented a proposal to the
county in December requesting the two parcels of land that comprise the Dorman
Center as the site for a new fire station.
HFD’s initial proposal requested that the county deed the
parcels to the fire district in the same manner that the county had intended to
donate the land for the Hoodland Community Park District.
The Clackamas Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) responded
to the proposal in early February with a counteroffer. The counteroffer
indicated the county will present a lease-to-own or option-to-buy offer to HFD
before the district’s public board of directors meeting on Tuesday, March 14.
“We don’t know what the offer is going to be. We are hoping
the BoCC will donate the property to another government entity (similar to the
park district),” said Scott Kline, HFD Division Chief and Fire Marshal.
Kline added that the county has also received an offer to
buy the property from a private party. The parcels are currently zoned as an
Open Space Management (OSM) district. This zoning specifies that the property
must be used for non-commercial purposes. However, the property can be
purchased and used for parking or loading area, as utility facilities and other
conditional uses. A fire station is allowed as a conditional use for the
HFD’s current aging facilities are a hodgepodge of additions
that stretch back to 1966, do not meet current seismic structural requirements
and have 24/7 staff sleeping in a jobsite shack separate from the main
facilities, causing an impact on emergency response times.
“(24/7) staff currently has to go through three secured
doors before they can get to the emergency response apparatus,” Kline said,
describing how the current facilities size constraints limit the district’s
ability to serve the mountain communities.
HFD’s proposal stipulates that the district will maintain
the community garden currently on-site and provide 12 park and ride spaces for
the Mountain Express shuttle. The proposed terms state that HFD will secure
funding for a new station within five years and begin construction within ten
The new station would also include a community meeting room
that could be secured from the rest of the station to facilitate community use.
The current station’s public meeting space cannot be secured from the rest of
the station and requires additional staff to be present whenever there is
community use to assure security and adequate emergency response.
Kline added that if the district receives the property HFD
will begin maintaining the grounds. The property will be cleared of invasive
species such as scotch broom and used to showcase Firewise practices for
maintaining wildfire resilient properties. The public gardens will also be
maintained for community use.
“If people want to weigh in on the use of the site, they can
write the county commissioners, or attend the BoCC meetings either virtually or
in person to express their opinion on the best use of the site,” Kline said.
Kimberly Webb, Public Information Officer for Clackamas
County, noted that due to the BoCC being on recess that no comment could be made
at the time of publishing.
She added that the BoCC typically discusses such
arrangements during executive session but will need to vote on any agreement at
a public meeting and that no such meeting is currently scheduled.
The public is invited to attend the HFD board of directors
meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 14, at the main station 69634 Hwy. 26 in
Welches. The BoCC’s counterproposal will be discussed at the meeting.
The BoCC typcially holds meetings at 10 a.m. on Thursdays at
2051 Kaen Road in Oregon City, but will also hold evening meetings once a month
at 6 p.m. on Thursdays, typcially the second Thursday of the month.
Anyone wishing to provide comments to the BoCC during a
business meeting can register online via Zoom when attending online or fill out
a blue card at the door when attending in person.
For more information on the BoCC, including weekly schedules
and meeting agendas, visit https://www.clackamas.us/bcc. For more information
on the HFD, visit https://www.hoodlandfire.us/.
By Ben Simpson/MT