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Kinoko Evans
The Duckworth Dock might be headed to Daimler.

As the Oregon State Marine Board prepares to decide Tuesday on whether to move the dock—300 feet of rare public river access just north of the Steel Bridge—state employees are urging the move [pdf], saying the dock's been wasted at its current location. That could mean one of downtown's only public docks will be hauled to Swan Island, something international trucking giant Daimler Trucks North America has been quietly pushing for a while now.

As we reported earlier this month, Daimler has offered to pay to relocate the Duckworth Dock—named after former Trail Blazer Kevin Duckworth—to a portion of the North Portland Greenway adjacent to its Swan Island headquarters. The company wants to offer water taxi service to Swan Island from Vancouver (and maybe Oregon City) and give its employees a place to hang out.

The city's been receptive to the idea. The Portland Bureau of Transportation, which currently manages the dock, says it's tired of the thing, and would happily hand it over to Portland Parks and Recreation in the event of a move.

Advocates like the Human Access Project(HAP) are hoping that doesn't happen. They note that the dock has been off limits to anyone but recreational boaters for its entire existence—a provision that the Marine Board required in exchange for a $580,000 grant that paid for the dock. That provision is currently slated to expire next year, which HAP honcho Willie Levenson says could make the Duckworth a premier swimming spot.

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Marine board staffers do not agree. At a meeting scheduled for 9:30 am tomorrow at the Portland Building, they're recommending that the board not only approve relocation of the dock, but also extend by six years [pdf] the terms of the grant agreement to ensure only boaters are allowed to use it. The agency says that PBOT mismanaged the dock over the years by not ensuring live-aboard boaters weren't living there for long periods of time, and so the longer agreement is warranted.

"Unfortunately, the Duckworth Dock in the current location is not utilized, taken care of or protected for the intended recreational boaters that paid for the facility," reads a memo prepared by staffers for the five-member Marine Board. "Instead, it has become an 'unsafe dock' that recreational boaters do not use."

Interestingly, by extending the prohibition on non-boaters, the board could be preventing a main reason Daimler told its employees it wants the dock.

In a February 19 email to employees about the proposed move, the company said the dock "has the potential to be a great enhancement, giving us an opportunity to get closer to the river during breaks, lunch time or informal meetings or potentially a place to visit or commute by boat." In fact, lunch eaters and meeting attendees wouldn't be allowed on the dock, under the Marine Board's rules, since they're not recreational boaters. Daimler only glancingly referenced this fact, coaching employees who might be interested in writing the state in support of the move as follows: "Enhancing the Greenway Trail experience and providing public access to the river are good reasons to cite, but since the technical purpose of this particular dock is to accommodate recreational boaters, reasons which would include boating or kayaking, etc. would directly support the dock's intended purpose."