The LRA for the former Umatilla Chemical Depot in northern Oregon has been fielding calls from companies interested in developing portions of the 20,000-acre facility but the Army isn’t planning to convey the property until next year, complicating the Columbia Development Authority’s reuse efforts.
Alternative energy companies, major agricultural producers, tech companies and a Fortune 500 corporation have all expressed an interest in pieces of the depot, reported the East Oregonian.
“What’s going to end up happening, if we don’t get this going, is enthusiasm is going to wane,” said Greg Smith, the authority’s executive director.
On Tuesday, local officials hosted Rep. Greg Walden (R) for a tour of the depot to underscore the need to expedite the Army’s planned property transfer.
One point of contention is how much of the site’s water rights will be available for the Oregon National Guard, which is slated to take possession of 7,500 acres of the property. Oregon Military Department Deputy Director Dave Stuckey told the paper there are “just a couple of small sticking points” left to address. The National Guard is anxious to see the land conveyed as it plans to host up to 1,200 personnel at the training facilities, Stuckey said.
Echoing his hosts, Walden said accelerating the transfer would be in everybody’s best interest.
“At this point it’s important to send a message that we’re on it and we care,” he said.
In addition to the parcel allocated to the National Guard, much of the remaining depot property will become a wildlife preserve. Only a small part would be dedicated to industrial and agricultural use.