Letters to the Editor - Feb. 7, 2014
Old Mac, ‘this brave sentinel’
Between 1910 and 1913, my grandparents, Anna and Oscar Powell, purchased acreage extending from the east side of Cozine Creek to Fleishauer Lane.
The family traveled by train and cart from Portland to camp on and begin developing the property for a permanent residence. Many times, they camped above the Cozine under the huge fir tree, Old Mac. It gave them shelter, much as it had the native Indians who earlier had come from miles around to conference, celebrate and compete in games. It was a sacred spot for them and became so to my family.
The ashes of my aunt, Laura Powell Knapp, and my cousin, Shirley Powell, were scattered beneath the tree. Yes, we have strong attachments and feelings for this brave sentinel.
I’m concerned that problems concerning Old Mac between my neighbors in the gated community are unfortunate and potentially harmful to Old Mac and residents’ relationships alike.
According to Karl Klooster’s article, a person who dissented with developer Dan Grunewald was removed from the Homeowners Association board. In any healthy community, there are differences of opinions openly expressed. I must ask if people should be removed from the board for raising questions during a meeting. I’m sure all the people there are thoughtful, caring people who are concerned about the community and need to be heard.
Mr. Grunewald is working hard to complete Forest Glen economically with vision for an excellent environment. Perhaps a more rapid response to questions raised could have ameliorated concerns and avoided dismissal of someone voicing concerns.
As for Old Mac, having survived lightning strikes and various human assaults, hopefully it will survive to greet and shelter many more generations to come.
McMinnville is fortunate to have this venerable tree. It would be a shame to lose it before its natural time.
Provide downtown restrooms
Recently, while enjoying a weekend afternoon in downtown McMinnville with my three young daughters, we needed to find a restroom.
I spent nearly 20 minutes and was refused, more times than I care to recall, access to facilities, most commonly for my not being a paying customer.
I am unsure if others have faced this situation while out with family or friends. If so, you can understand why I am writing to inquire why local businesses feel they should hold hostage the restrooms within their establishments, allowing access only to those willing to spend money.
This region, now recognized as one of the premier wine destinations in the world, should provide more accessible facilities for both tourists and locals, as both are vital to businesses’ success within any community.
I understand restroom facilities are not without cost for business owners. However, this is a small service to extend to the community that, as a whole, supports you. It is also just the right thing to do, as no one would enjoy being in a position where they are trying to get a child to a bathroom — or three children, in my case — and are denied at every turn.
Possibly, another solution is for the city of McMinnville to provide public restrooms in the downtown/Third Street area, a small expense with unimaginable benefits to both Third Street businesses and our local farmers market during the months it operates.
There are many options for public restroom facilities, and many are not eyesores to communities. These options should be considered.
Shadow could be garbage
The lovely logo for McMinnville — a representative oak tree and two wine glasses filled with clusters of grapes in front of two gentle slopes, a green one, then a shadowed one — was created years ago by my late husband, Randall Jelinek, then head of the Linfield Art Department. It captures the image of McMinnville as The Heart of the Wine Country.
But what is the significance of the shadowed mountain behind the green one? Could it be the huge and growing mound of garbage collected from our town, county, and other cities and counties all the way to the coast?
Despite the objections of many (Yamhill County Planning Commission, Waste Not, Stop the Dump Coalition, Community Rights, a list of citizens on a full News-Register page in little print, McMinnville’s Mayor Rick Olson, McMinnville City Council and those making a zero-waste proposal), and despite a significant number of other individuals and organizations, two county commissioners approved the extension of the dump. They specified a facility for transforming waste into energy, which is overdue and will, undoubtedly, take a decade to develop.
Many voters matter less, it seems, than the prestige and influence of the few who are closer to those in power (elected or not).
Loophole in Riverbend plan
Our county commissioners, Allen Springer and Kathy George, have approved a zoning change that allows Waste Management (WM) to continue the growth of Riverbend Landfill. To their credit, they included Condition 7, requiring waste recycling through a “green technology” process.
Condition 7 is a response to growing objections to Riverbend’s growth and the absence of any plan to further reduce our dependence on a dump to dispose of our trash. But the “green technology” doesn’t have to actually work or divert much waste from the landfill. Riverbend will continue to grow.
Community support for landfill expansion rests on economic claims and testimony that WM has been a good neighbor. WM’s contributions to the Stewardship Lands and the Rails to Trails are commendable, but WM profits handsomely from building Riverbend — a mountain of rotting garbage that will be there forever. Landfill supporters ignored major negative economic impacts and overstated the cost of alternatives to Riverbend disposal.
The landfill has already rendered unsalable dozens of residential properties in its vicinity. Surrounding farmland is increasingly restricted to non-food crops. Riverbend is a direct threat to our burgeoning tourism industry, which is of far greater economic value to Yamhill County than the landfill.
Our practice of storing all our garbage in a pile is irresponsible. This is especially true of Riverbend, built on unstable land next to a river in a wet climate that accelerates stinking gas emissions and toxic liquid leachate. The county’s adoption of Condition 7 is well-intended but lacks the teeth to constitute a serious move toward advanced waste management.
Waste Management called Condition 7 a deal-breaker, but the loopholes will allow them to set the terms for operation and expansion of Riverbend. Unless the final ordinance is carefully crafted, the county will find it’s been hustled.
Easement claims incorrect
I would like to respond to incorrect claims and statements made by Rob Tracey at Sen. Merkley’s recent Town Hall. Mr. Tracey, interestingly enough, has retired from the same agency blocking the development of Wallace Bridge.
Mr. Tracey stated his primary fear was that modifying the easement will set a precedent for future modifications. The precedent has already been set. There have been many approved modifications throughout the United States. In addition, Mr. Tracey failed to mention that there is a legal process to modify easements, which standards we have met according to the hearings officer.
Many of the other approved modifications to NRCS easements have done permanent damage to the wetlands. The Wallace Bridge modification triples the wetlands, imperils neither existing habitat and requires no mitigation. It adds land and valuable habitat.
In the Wallace Bridge modification, the environment will not lose, as Mr. Tracey stated. Speaking of the environment losing, we should look at the NRCS’s recent practice of mowing this easement down to the ground and spraying the easement with toxic chemicals, twice within the last year. How is this practice a net win for the environment?
Mr. Tracey’s final point was strewn with paranoia and implied improprieties. Wallace Bridge has always acknowledged the easement is the property of the people. There have been no threats to democracy or proposed harm to the people. If anything, the proposed modification significantly improves the people’s position and land value. It is a net win for all parties involved.
We invite Mr. Tracey to do something the NRCS has refused to do: Read the facts and actually walk the property. Call me to arrange a visit. Then make a decision based on the facts versus innuendo and speculation. We reiterate our invitation to the NRCS to do the same.