The East Oregonian editorial board receives feedback about many of our editorials, but we received much more negative response than usual regarding our April 1 piece titled “River corridor needs smart development.”

Much of the criticism is valid. In the harsh light of newsprint, the editorial failed to measure up to our standards. The opinion was poorly expressed and poorly informed.

Look across the page today to see responses from some Pendleton Development Commission members and volunteers who have had a hand in the detailed planning of corridor development since 2003.

The river park way has come a long way since these people, and many others, took up the fight nearly a decade ago. The park way is safe and well-used at all times of day and night. The Umatilla and its banks have been cleared of garbage and many invasive plants, homeless camps and other illegal activity. Those achievements shouldn’t have been glossed over.

It’s fair to debate the future of the river corridor and how best to spur development there. But it was unfair to minimize the long, painstaking and public-influenced work that coded the area and created the platform for the smart development we were advocating for.

Certainly the corridor is worth discussing and debating. Development there could invigorate the city, yet in the four years since the PDC’s code rules have been in place, not one project has been started in the river quarter. That frustrates both them and us, though it is not too surprising as the recession slowed development like this nationwide. The $100,000 carrot is offered to jump-start the process and show developers willing to jump through the hoops that it can be done successfully.

We admit to being impatient, to wanting that perfect “anchor tenant” that could revolutionize the neighborhood and bring commerce and life to the riverfront tomorrow. But we were wrong to say the offer is “$100,000 to any (developer) willing to do anything” in the corridor because that isn’t true.

The PDC?is now fishing for that big developer and the cash grant, payable only after the project is complete and meets the myriad specifications, is just another lure in their tackle box.

As any fisherman of the Umatilla knows, some days the fish are biting and some days they are not. But we were wrong to be dismissive of the PDC?and their use of the grant funds

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