The information in this blog post is based on the article published today, June 5th, in the Clackamas Review opinion section.
School Board: Let’s work together, please do not close our local business.
Tomorrow, the North Clackamas School Board will hold a public board meeting and on the agenda is their proposed purchase or condemnation of the Mutual Materials Clackamas branch as a solution to obtaining more land to service and park buses. This is not the only solution available to the school district. There are alternatives that will both serve district needs and allow our local business to remain open. This is to share some background about this situation with the Clackamas community in the hope that the community and the school board support working together with us for a win-win solution.
Mutual Materials in Oregon
Our company, Mutual Materials, has been a family-owned business manufacturing and selling the products that have helped build the Pacific Northwest since 1900. We have 3 manufacturing facilities and 4 branches in the greater Portland market and we recently opened a showroom in downtown Portland in an effort to service more customers. At our Clackamas branch, we have been operating and serving local customers out of the same location since 1973.
How did we get to this point?
We were recently approached by the North Clackamas School District with an interest in our property. While we told the school district we were not interested in selling, we still have gone through the process of diligently searching for alternate locations. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, it’s a challenging market and we have not been successful in finding alternate location options. Realizing our challenge with finding a new space for our Clackamas branch, we offered the school district an easement path to Piazza, which we understood was their original primary motivation. We have now been told that they would like to acquire our entire property for the purpose of servicing and parking buses. If the school board approves of the plan at their meeting at the end of the month, they will have the ability to take our property through condemnation. If the school district moves forward with condemnation, it will force Mutual Materials to move from a location that is unique in its ability to service contractor customers local to the Clackamas community, while forcing us to face significant financial hardship through a move not of our choosing.
Part of our history is helping to build schools in Clackamas
While we are a significant contributor to businesses and building in the community, we have also had considerable involvement in building the schools themselves in the North Clackamas School District. Many of the schools were built with our block and brick. Taking the branch away would definitely impact our ability to service new school development. We have worked on both new schools, as well as school additions within the school district, partnering with local contractors and architects to ensure quality construction.
We need to collaborate on a solution that both helps the school district and is fair to local business
We have continued to try to explore options with the school district that will allow us to remain where we are in Clackamas, up to and including, carving off a larger portion of our parcel, so that they are able to manage the school bus servicing that they desire. While this would require a significant re-layout of our site, we are willing to do this to work with the school district to find a mutually agreeable solution. We recognize that many of the over 1200 customers that come to our branch to will call materials every year have children in the school district. However, we also recognize that if we are forced to move out of Clackamas, this will be a significant hardship on these small contractor businesses.
There is community support asking the school Board to vote for a collaborative solution instead of Eminent Domain.
As noted, the public school board meeting to discuss their proposed purchase or condemnation of the Mutual Materials Clackamas branch on June 6, with a final vote on June 27. We put together an online petition last Friday, May 31, asking the school board to consider working with Mutual Materials on alternative options to taking our entire Clackamas branch property. Over the weekend, it has already garnered over 100 signatures and comments from the community that uses Mutual Materials for their building needs. As of early morning June 5th, the number of supporters swelled to 195 people asking the School Board to seek a collaborative solution over Eminent Domain.
Thursday, June 6th is the first public meeting to discuss the school district proposal
We will be at the meeting on June 6 to provide our point of view and to continue to offer the school district options that we believe would work for both sides. We would like to encourage anyone who has appreciated having Mutual Materials as part of the Clackamas community to come to the North Clackamas School Board meeting on June 6 at 7:00 pm. The meeting will be held in the Board Room at the North Clackamas School District 12 at 12400 SE Freeman Way in Milwaukie, Oregon.
We are hopeful that the school board is open to listening to us and our customers.
We feel strongly that there is a result that can work for both the school district and Mutual Materials. We took a look at the student handbook that the school district provides, which speaks to strengthening quality of life in their local communities. We would respectfully suggest that finding a mutually agreeable solution around the Mutual Materials property in Clackamas would be one such way to achieve that goal.