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Lots to like in livable local communities

Yamhill County has escaped the rapid growth that swallowed up metro-area cities

Jan 1, 2013


New Years Day was a welcome respite from the wet winter weather, reminding us of the great rural vistas of the surrounding valley. There's plenty to appreciate around here.

Quick: What are the 4th, 5th and 6th largest cities in Oregon behind Portland, Eugene and Salem? If you guessed Medford or Bend, try again. Those faster-growing communities are Gresham (105,970), Hillsboro (92,550) and Beaverton (91,205).

Consider the little Oregon village of Beaverton. It held 500 people a century ago, growing to about 2,500 in 1950. That shot to 6,000 in 1960, then tripled to 18,000 over the next 10 years. It took another 20 years to triple again to 54,000, becoming the confusing sprawl that long ago enguled that small rural village. The growth of previously tiny Gresham ran a similar course. Hillsboro was a few years behind, but caught up quickly by jumping from 37,000 to 70,000 between 1990 and 2000.

Yamhill County is Oregon's 10th largest county at 100,550 people, but our citiies retain their individuality and moderate size. McMinnville and Newberg are only the 17th and 22nd largest cities in the state, and our small towns rank 71st (Sheridan), 84th (Lafayette), 95th (Dundee), 103rd (Dayton), 114th (Carlton), 115th (Willamina), 134th (Amity) and 159th (Yamhill) – out of Oregon's 241 cities.

Sometimes, I wonder how this area would have developed if we had built that highway across a new bridge direct to I-5 back in the 1970s. We wouldn't have seen the kind of growth that swallowed up Gresham, Hillsboro and Beaverton, but it might have changed some of the dynamics of McMinnville.

Long-time readers know that the News-Register has always been a strong supporter of economic and community development. But like most local people, we also appreciate the value of controlled growth that doesn't overwhelm our livable communities.

- Jeb Bladine
publisher 

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