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Friday, March 8, 2013

TriMet's suing the North Clackamas Park District on a promise that the District didn't make

March 08, 2013

TriMet has sued Clackamas County and the North Clackamas Park and Recreation District (run by the county commissioners), alleging that the county and the district are breaking a promise to convey two parcels of land to TriMet for the Milwaukie light rail. Whether or not TriMet is correctly suing the county, it's suing the district for a promise that the district didn't make. Here's what TriMet says in paragraph 42 of its complaint: TriMet has requested that the District enter into an agreement to convey the Trolley Trail Property to TriMet for the [light rail] Project, consistently with the District's duties under the IGA [the Inter-Governmental Agreement among TriMet, the County, and the District] and Trolley Trail IGA [an agreement between TriMet and the district]. In exchange for the transfer, TriMet has offered to convey to the District an adjacent property, to construct a trail on that property at no cost to the District, and to provide the District with additional compensation. To date, the District has refused to enter into such an agreement. In other words, TriMet is telling the court that the two inter-governmental agreements require the district to sell TriMet the Trolley Trail Property (a portion of the Trolley Trail that the park district owns and has been using for a bike and pedestrian trail). TriMet and its lawyers are putting words in the district's mouth. The district didn't make that promise. Here's what the district actually promised in the inter-governmental agreement: Section 1.5(b): "The Parties acknowledge and agree that all roadways, sidewalks, streets, and trails owned by or under the control of the County or District that are improved as part of the Project shall remain under control of the County or District with any ownership rights it has prior to construction of the Project, provided that the portion of the roadway on which trackwork is placed shall be subject to FTA's [the Federal Transportation Administration's] continuing control requirements and shall be operatied and maintained in perpetuity by TriMet as part of TriMet's system." In other words, the park district's property remains the park district's property. Section 6.1: "By execution of this Agreement, the Parties agree to negotiate in good faith the terms and conditions of all other agreements that may be reasonably required or desired to design, construct, and maintain the Project, which may include * * * right-of-way acquisition and permitting." In other words, the county and the park district will negotiate in good faith other agreements that may be reasonably required to build the light rail line. That's as close as the district comes to promising to give TriMet any property. What you won't find in the inter-governmental agreement is any promise by the district to sell or give TriMet the Trolley Trail Property. You also won't find that promise in the other inter-governmental agreement, the one made by TriMet and the park district in April 2012. All you will find is the district agreeing to allow TriMet access onto the property to build the light rail line, and obligating TriMet to build the Trolley Trail on the property from Park Avenue to River Road. The district wouldn't need to give TriMet permission to build the trail if TriMet were to be the owner of the property. In short, TriMet's suing the Park District to enforce a promise that the district didn't make. Let's hope that the district's lawyers read the contracts more carefully than TriMet did.

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