2019-09-14 ne-pearldistrictpondg1

It’s probably for the best that the city is slowing down on eminent domain efforts aimed at building a detention pond in the Pearl District.

The city has acquired several of the 45 properties needed for the long-planned pond near VFW Post 577 and the Indian Health Care Center Resource Center on Sixth Street. The project’s cost is $25 million to $30 million and construction isn’t expected until 2021 at the soonest.

But — as often happens when public projects move from the planning phase to implementation — the work has drawn concerns from some neighbors and opposition from others.

The city had instituted condemnation proceedings against several properties, including at least one house and several vacant lots, but City Councilor Kara Joy McKee announced Wednesday that the city’s legal department will stop those proceedings, at least for the time being.

The detention pond plan isn’t a surprise. The city has been talking about a string of detention ponds in the area since the 1980s with public participation in the process as it was developed. Another pond at Centennial Park has been in place for years, and another is planned for the former Laura Dester Center property.

The public benefit involved is substantial. When completed, the ponds will reduce the flood plain area from 21st Street and Boulder Avenue to Centennial Park, and then east along Sixth Street to the 800 block of Rockford Avenue. That means more protection for people living in the area and better land values.

But eminent domain — the forced sale of private land to the government — can be an emotional issue that requires full, deliberative consideration by the city’s professional and political leadership.

The city’s growth patterns and its political leadership have changed since the detention pond discussion began. It’s not unreasonable to hit the pause button at this point to make sure it’s still what the city wants and needs heading into the next decade.


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