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Saturday, November 10, 2007
Be true to your own self-interest
Local developers now have their eyes on the spot where Lincoln High sits. Their proposal: tear down the aging school and replace it with condo towers. Where will the kids go? To a new facility on a vacant parcel of land owned by freight company Con-way in NW Portland.
There are a lot of problems with this proposal but the biggest one I can see is that many of Portland's schools are getting long in the tooth and are in poor shape. My alma mater, Wilson High School, once referred to as a "country club on the hill" when it first opened in the '50s, is falling apart. I visited the campus back in May and found tiles precariously hanging off the ceiling, walls with chipping paint, ancient lockers covered in poorly washed-off graffiti and a stairwell that reeked of rotting garbage. One locker with a missing door on the third floor looked like a bomb had exploded in it.
While I haven't set foot in Lincoln in a decade, I'm sure it's in better shape than Wilson. Long story short: a few crowded hallways and an aging building seems like poor reasoning for a costly move. Lincoln has been standing for 55 years and its projected lifespan is at least 80. Con-way has already considered selling its parcel of land to developers. Plus, would it even be big enough for a high school and an accompanying football field like the one Lincoln currently has? While neighborhood ordinances would prevent a condo tower from going up in NW, I'm sure there's cash to be made off building smaller housing over there.
In the days to come this is likely to be sold to the public as a win-win situation for everybody. The developers will be able to make big bucks off the Lincoln's downtown spot and the kids will get a new facility somewhat nearby. Still, I can't help feeling that PPS will be sold down the river and its other schools will continue to deteriorate, all to pave the way for a cold-hearted land grab.