Taxpayers may foot the bill to dispose of runaway barge

Taxpayers may foot the bill to dispose of runaway barge

PORTLAND, Ore. - Metro officials say taxpayers may pick up a hefty bill for dealing with a derelict, former floating yacht club.

The building's owner claims there's no way the building ended up floating down the river by itself. The runaway barge that carried the former Vancouver Yacht Club building is now moored at the boat ramp on 42nd Avenue along Marine Drive in Northeast Portland.

It started out across the river on the Washington side of the Columbia. But Multnomah County sheriff’s river patrol deputies spotted the building the night of March 22 floating in the darkness down the Columbia River. The U.S. Coast Guard ordered a tug to capture it and moor it to the nearest safe spot, which happened to be Metro's new docks. It’s been there ever since.

"This becomes the public's cost, unfortunately," said Paul Slyman, Metro parks director. "This is an unfortunate example of someone who has purchased something with no means to take care of it."

According to Metro, it has gotten bids, some as high as $80,000, to dispose of the floating building.

The cost of getting rid of it is so high because parts of the building contain asbestos, and because it was built in the 1940s and 50s some of the paint is suspected of having lead in it.

"It's just been a big mess. They won't allow me put it anywhere," said the building's owner, Richard Dulas, by phone Wednesday afternoon.

He said he thinks someone actually took it from where he anchored it near Camas.

"It was not drifting down the river. It was anchored. They came and got it," he said.

That answer doesn't satisfy angry taxpayers who may have to foot the bill.

"I don't know how you can legislate responsibility from people, but we end up paying for it when bad things happen like this," said Kevin Baldwin who uses the docks at the boat ramp.

Since the owner has few options right now Metro may be left to deal with getting rid of the old yacht club building itself.