PREFACE: It was a cold and rainy day in the mid-1990s as I stood out along Evergreen and Glencoe Roads holding a sign in bold red that said “NO PRISON IN HILLSBORO”. Standing next to me were several hundred people making a line in the rain, including children, Moms and Dads, and even some government officials. The State Prison officials who were down to decision time were driving past us, headed to Glencoe High School. A large prison was being placed in Wilsonville or Hillsboro. I was determined it was not going to be Hillsboro.
At 34, I was busy trying to build a career and raise a family. How I got the call from Gordon Faber, our Mayor and a local boy of great reputation, I do not know. But he called me and said, “Dirk…they are going to shove a prison on top of our community. I need your help”. I was honored. The Fabers were well-known to me as a kid, and I respected Gordon greatly. That conversation ended, and a few days later, I founded the No Prison In The Sunset Corridor Committee. With the help of the Vanraden family (Columbia Trailer), the Wilson Family (Soloflex) , and several other local Realtors and business owners, we went to war against the State and the Mayor of Wilsonville, who had quietly cut a deal for the State to come to Hillsboro because we had a lot of land and no one seemed to care.
Gordon cared. I cared. In the end, hundreds of Hillsboro people stepped up and cared. We beat back the State, and when those prison officials saw signs and hundreds of us locals along the roads, they knew it was over.
In the end, Gordon gave me a special letter of recommendation and thanks. When he handed it to me, he said, “Keep an eye out for our town. This was very important.” when he shook my hand, I felt unlike any other time in my life. Gordon was a great guy, and I got to have coffee with him a number of times later in his life.
The Gordon Faber Recreation Complex recognizes the greatness of a community-minded man like Gordon. And as we approach the precipice of it being changed forever, I am reminded of what he said to me and of the need to continue to watch out for our town.
Imagine a Prison surrounded by Razor Wire flanking our town and what that would have been like. Horrible.
There has been a great deal of PR by the City of Hillsboro and the Hillsboro Hops leading up to the public hearing this Wednesday Night, which will be held before the Planning and Zoning Hearings Board at 6:30 PM this Wednesday night. The PZHB will hear a specific request by the City of Hillsboro, which is the Applicant, and in essence, the City will be asking itself for approval to tear out 3 of our beautiful existing youth and recreational baseball and softball fields and put in a massive 7,000 seat stadium. We have reviewed the application by the City, which seems like it was written by the Hillsboro Hops, and are submitting our comments to the public record.
Let the record show the following:
- I have attended the Hops games a number of times and believe they bring a good sports entertainment option to our City and the games are enjoyable.
- The people of Hillsboro built a state-of-the-art stadium about 11 years ago and leased it to the team for a very low fee to ensure they could succeed.
- Major League Baseball has new rules requiring Minor League Teams to upgrade their facilities by the end of 2025.
- The Hops approached the City of Hillsboro about making the upgrades needed. Over the last year or two, a very rough and not well-documented budget was developed to remodel the existing Ron Tonkin Field to meet these requirements.
- Even though the original Stadium was $15,000,000 to build, remodeling the new stadium has been estimated to cost as much as $160,000,000. We have reviewed the budget presented to create that astronomical number and find it very poorly documented and rather hard to believe.
- The Hillsboro City Council and Staff, in the past few months, decided to promote the idea of building the Hops organization a brand new 7,000 seat Stadium which will allow them to have 66 Home games a year and host a large number of Concerts and other events; however, they see fit.
- To achieve this, the City Council circumvented and left out the Hillsboro Parks and Recreation Commission. The reasons for this seem self-serving; based on comments from the Parks Commissioners and in personal conversations we have had with members of that body and high-level staff at the Hillsboro Parks Department, the City Council’s actions have caused a rift in a once smooth and cohesive relationship. The question is why the City Council did that. Those answers have not been offered.
- The City has committed $18,000,000 of our public money to this process and have agreed to give land worth upwards of $20,000,000 to the Team for their exclusive use.
- The budget for the new Stadium is being promoted as $120,000,000, and the reason to go that route is that it costs less. That has been proven to be a complete misrepresentation because the new stadium will destroy three beautiful fields. Those fields must be replaced – where and how much is unclear as of now. Those costs could easily eclipse $20,000,000. In addition, our City is giving 8-10 acres of land for their new stadium, which will exist on our public land, but by contract, we will have no right to it as a City.
- In our view, the two options are almost the same in terms of the actual costs of the facilities and the Hillsboro Hops must be held accountable for the costs of losing those three fields.
- As a city, we will lose the ability of the Gordon Faber Recreation Complex to hold large regional baseball and softball events. This will have a massive negative effect on the local economy.
- Because there is a significant restriction on the Stadium complex that does not allow more than 7,000 spectators to be at the property at one time, the Hillsboro community stands to lose the use of all other facilities at the GFRC any night the Hops host a game or event that sells out. This could have a horrible long-term outcome.
A Petition has been started by Denise Caire, who is opposed to the new stadium being approved without a vote of the people- Join Her If you Agree by signing here:
LAND USE IS ALL THAT MATTERS AT THIS POINT:
OK, lots of unpacking up there and that was a fraction of what was happening. At this point, however, this is all down to a very technical set of codes. Land use laws, city codes, and a process that allows anyone to have their position known. Anyone can hear their voice with a properly written letter, email, or oral testimony entered into the record.
All of you are encouraged to attend, for or against this process.
Here is the information:
- Wednesday at 6:30 PM, the hearing will be held at the City Hall in Hillsboro. In-person or via Zoom, according to the posting.
PLANNING AND ZONING HEARINGS BOARD
When: 1st & 3rd Wednesday of each month
Time: 6:30 pm
Place: Civic Center Conference Room 113B&C
Phone: 1-253-215-8782 or 1-301-715-8592
Meeting ID: 869 3118 8188
For the Application and the City Staff Report the documents are here-
Conditional Use-003-23: Hillsboro Hops Ballpark:
Request: Consider approving a request for a Conditional Use to allow the construction of a new Major Assembly Facility within the Gordon Faber Recreation Complex in the I-P Industrial Park zone. (Staff: Ruth Klein)
Turn In Your Testimony and reference Conditional Use-003-23: Hillsboro Hops Ballpark:
The City Staff Member to contact is Ruth Kline. Her email is this: Ruth.Klein@hillsboro-oregon.gov
This is my 44th year actively engaged in Hillsboro land use, community issues, and real estate matters. For the record, you will see me quite active as this process moves ahead. The reason is nothing to do with baseball. The reason is this process is wrong.
This process is being done incorrectly. The code is not being met. The Stadium has no way to be paid for at this time. We have no plan to replace the lost fields. We need to do better for our kids and adults losing their fields at the GFRC. We need to do better for people living in the area who can be affected by traffic, noise, and other impacts.
Members of the current Parks Commission, the former Parks Director, and high-ranking members of the current Parks Department have asked me to carry the torch and be a voice on this issue. These sorts of things cost me friendships and relationships at City Hall that, for a Realtor, cost me real money. But money is fleeting – doing the right thing will never go out of style, and leadership is not always found behind a title.
This application is not well done and, in my view, does not provide the needed documentation and technical data to make an approval possible.
I welcome you all to weigh in.