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Panel buoys cruise line's road request.

Byline: Sherri Buri McDonald The Register-Guard

SPRINGFIELD - The Springfield Planning Commission on Tuesday unanimously endorsed Royal Caribbean's request to vacate - or eliminate as a public road - a stretch of Sports Way that divides the Gateway area site where the cruise line plans to build a $60 million customer service center.

The 435-foot section of road must be vacated before the Miami-based cruise line can break ground on a 180,000-square-foot call center that the company hopes to open next fall. The center would initially employ 250, and could grow to 1,000 employees by 2009, company officials have said.

Next, Royal Caribbean's request - with the planning commission's recommendation to approve - will go to the City Council on Dec. 6.

The request is on the fast track because Royal Caribbean is eager to break ground in January.

Under Springfield development code, a road vacation must conform with the Metro Plan, the blueprint for growth for the Eugene-Springfield area, and it must not have negative effects on access, traffic circulation, emergency service protection, or any other public benefit from the easement or right of way.

The commissioners indicated that those requirements had been met.

Only one objection to the request was raised at a public hearing at the planning commission meeting.

James Spickerman, attorney for the Knox Family Trust, which owns 68 acres north of Royal Caribbean's site, gave commissioners a letter stating the Knox family's concerns about how the vacation of Sports Way would affect access to its agricultural property. However, the letter said the family was working with the city to try to resolve the matter.

A Royal Caribbean representative at the meeting said the company was also interested in working with the family and the city to reach a resolution.

To ensure future road connections, Royal Caribbean has agreed to dedicate a 525-foot stretch of 70-foot right of way along the southern edge of its property. The company will also provide easements to several utilities that must pass through the property.

The 435-foot section of road that would be removed to make way for Royal Caribbean cost $175,000 to build in 1996, city planner Jim Donovan told the commissioners in a work session before the meeting.

Commissioner William Carpenter said he's always concerned when a public facility is torn out and not replaced. But, he said, in this case, "one might be penny wise and dollar foolish."

The benefits from Royal Caribbean's development should justify the loss of the road over time, he said.
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Title Annotation:Government; Royal Caribbean wants a public street eliminated to allow for its call center
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 24, 2004
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