Your guide to the Treasure Valley Reload Center – get the history, purpose and status.
What is it?
The Treasure Valley Reload Center will be a shipping center where Treasure Valley farm products can be unloaded from trucks and loaded onto rail cars. A warehouse and rail spurs are the centerpiece. To start, only onions would move through the center. The center is on former farmland north of downtown Nyssa.
Why is it needed?
Onion producers say they need more predictable rail service from Union Pacific Railroad to move their commodities east. They say rail service will be cheaper and faster than trucking, allowing them to get to market sooner and to cut their costs.
When will it open?
That’s unknown. The center was supposed to open in 2020 and then a grand opening was promised for October 2022. Project officials now hope to open in fall 2023.
Who owns it?
The project is owned by the Malheur County Development Corp., a public company set up in 2017 by Malheur County officials. The company has agreed to sell the project for $1 if Americold, contracted to manage the facility, stays on the task for 20 years.
What about the public company?
The Malheur County Court established the company but its operations are controlled by a separate board of directors. The current board includes four people from the onion industry – Grant Kitamura, Kay Riley, Corey Maag, Jason Pearson. Lynn Findley, a state senator, resigned his seat on the board in October. The company’s day-to-day operations until recently had been put in the hands of Greg Smith, a private contractor from Heppner and a state representative.
The prime winner is the onion industry. Companies expect to pay less to move their onions in a way that improves their bottom line. State officials expect other agricultural interests to use the center but there are no firm plans to do so at the moment. County and state officials say the public benefits because there is less truck traffic on the freeways, reducing pollution, highway repair costs and accidents.
What about new jobs?
Project leaders recently said the shipping center would have up to 15 jobs but no documents support that. As for the onion industry, there has been no projection it will create any new jobs and only the same volume of onions would be grown. Not all onion producers have signed on to use the reload center.
What’s the cost?
The Oregon Legislature gave Malheur County $26 million in 2017. The project is now estimated to cost nearly $40 million in public funds – and that’s after officials removed about $2 million in warehouse equipment and roadwork.
What about the industrial park?
Malheur County went into debt to buy 230 acres to develop into the Aracadia Industrial Park. Greg Smith was paid to pursue federal funding but officials rejected the application as “unacceptable” and Smith’s commitment to try again didn’t happen. The county instead recently hired a Portland firm to give officials advice on what to do with the bare ground.
NEWS TIP? Send an email to [email protected].
HOW TO SUBSCRIBE – The Malheur Enterprise delivers quality local journalism – fair and accurate. You can read it any hour, any day with a digital subscription. Read it on your phone, your Tablet, your home computer. Click subscribe – $7.50 a month.