Gale Marshall has lobbied the Pendleton City Council for years to cancel a land lease with an Indiana transport company. But when the council had a chance to cancel it, Marshall was greeted with silence.
When Mayor John Turner asked the council if they wished to reverse the lease at a meeting Tuesday, no councilor made a motion, effectively putting a halt to Marshall’s campaign.
The crux of Marshall’s complaint is that a 12-year land lease signed by a subsidiary of Horizon Transport called Queen B Storage in 2015 is undercutting his business.
Marshall owns 24 acres of land adjacent to the city’s property, both located near Keystone RV Co.’s Westgate plant. Transport companies use the properties to store vehicles ahead of their transport to RV dealerships across the country.
Marshall has argued that the city’s lease rate was lower than the market rate, causing transport companies to abandon his property for the Queen B lot.
He brought along eight people from the business community to support him, but otherwise, Marshall stuck with his usual talking points.
Marshall said living and investing in Pendleton was a dream, but his revenue has dropped by 300 percent since the city signed the lease.
“I still love it here, but I don’t want to be put out of business,” he said. “And that’s exactly what’s happening.”
Marshall said the council should have considered the lease as “money managers” rather than business people and not compete with the private sector.
Councilor Paul Chalmers asked Marshall if the city should abandon the Pendleton Convention Center because it competes with the Red Lion Hotel’s event space.
Marshall didn’t directly answer the question but said there was a difference between the city taking action to bring new industry to town and signing a lease that didn’t bring new jobs.
“I’m sitting in an adverse position trying to negotiate a sale with Horizon but they got a sweetheart lease with city,” he told the council. “Why would they even want to buy (from me)?”
In an interview after the meeting, Marshall said he doesn’t know what his next step will be.
“It looks like (the council) didn’t want to give me a break,” he said.
Despite calling the agreement between the city and Queen B illegal at the meeting, a characterization contested by City Attorney Nancy Kerns, Marshall didn’t seem inclined to take legal action.
“What good would it do me?” he said. “If the community doesn’t see a problem, that would only draw more resources from me.”
Later in the meeting, the council unanimously approved new self-contained breathing apparatuses for the Pendleton Fire Department.
The department’s current equipment is set to be decommissioned next year and purchased them through the $10 million fire bond voters approved in May. LN Curtis & sons of Kent, Washington’s $275,844 bid was $5,844 above budget, but cost savings from other projects means the overall bond budget is still on track.
Contact Antonio Sierra at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0836.