Recent Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) proposals threaten Historic Terwilliger Parkway due to Poorly Analyzed Data and Assumptions
On behalf of Friends of Terwilliger, Earthwise Law Center has recently submitted two sets of formal comments to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regarding the proposed upgrades and improvements to Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC):
FOT is concerned that the inadequate Draft Environmental Assessment and the VA’s conclusion of “no significant impacts” to Terwilliger Parkway by their Washington, DC office, will prevent effective mitigation in the final designs and construction and cause real harm to the Parkway and environment.
Terwilliger Parkway is a 115-acre linear and scenic park of great historic and cultural significance while enjoyed as a regional asset to all. It offers a nature-based respite for patients and workers at all of the Marquam Hill hospitals including the Veteran’s Administration (VA) and Oregon Health & Science University (OSHU).
Friends of Terwilliger understands that the VA has compelling reasons for upgrading the VA facilities to better serve their patients and employees. However, we find that the recently submitted final DEA fails to identify and address major concerns about the potential for significant negative impact to the historic Terwilliger Parkway and on its hillside forest and views by building several new buildings on the steep slope just above the Parkway, including proposed parking garages with 850 additional spaces.
The DEA appears hastily written and poorly edited, including figures lacking interpretation and informative legends, appropriately cited tables, an incomplete Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA), and lack of justifications for its statements of “no significant impact” in many of the required areas of environmental assessment. The DEA ignores impacts to air quality and the historic resources of Terwilliger Parkway. In particular, Terwilliger Parkway includes public park land on either side of the boulevard. The Terwilliger Parkway as a whole district has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, not just the roadway. The DEA makes reference only to “Terwilliger Boulevard”, the paved road.
The Marquam Hill Plan (City of Portland, 2003) sets a limit of 1258 parking spaces in “Subdistrict D” which comprises the VAMC. This parking limit is intended to “reduce congestion and other transportation-related impacts on Terwilliger Boulevard and the neighborhoods surrounding the plan district.” The total of existing and proposed parking spaces with this action will be around 2145 spaces, or 58% over this limit. The VA participated in the creation of the Marquam Hill Plan and expressed its intent to follow local laws, but does not address this discrepancy in the DEA.
Friends of Terwilliger wishes to thank the Earthrise Law Center for their invaluable assistance in helping us respond to this latest threat to Historic Terwilliger Parkway.
For more information:
VAMC Portland Draft Environmental Assessment
- - VAMC_Portland_NOA_letter_Feb_2022_2.pdf
- - Earthrise Law Center Consultation with Friends of Terwilliger