Letters to the Editor: Sept. 2, 2022

Overpasses, please

Back in The 1940s, McMinnville and Dayton petitioned the Oregon Department of Transportation for a bypass. They ended up getting Highway 18, which went on to become the busiest secondary highway in the state, to serve that purpose along the Three Mile Lane corridor.

In designing the system, ODOT built an overpass for Highway 99W, taking it across a new bridge replacing the old wooden bridge across Foster Bottom.

However, even though right of way was purchased for an overpass and cloverleaf for the Lafayette/Hopewell highway junction, it was never built. That led to multiple deadly accidents there.

In recent years, ODOT has expanded Highway 18 and added an overpass for the little used Fort Hill Road. But nothing similar has been done here.

Traffic lights are for streets. They control traffic by interrupting flow.

The hospital and museum intersections would be much easier to use with a properly constructed overpass.

Building some overpasses to return the Highway 18 Bypass to its intended purpose would be much cheaper than siting and building a new bypass. Plus, it would save countless acres of valuable farm ground.

Hank Evers



An emphatic no

As reported in the News-Register, McMinnville Planning Director Heather Richards is asking for county funds for the city’s Three Mile Lane project, even though the city council has not approved the plan. The plan calls for a large new shopping center, at least the size of Bridgeport Village, across the Highway 18 expressway from the rest of town.

According to Nicole Montesano’s well-written article, “The rezoning to commercial, Richards said, has been the most controversial aspect of the plan. She said McMinnville residents have come down on both sides of the issue roughly equally.”

Huh? It’s not even close.

About 90 city residents testified orally or in writing at the hearings before the city council and planning commission. At least 55 expressed opposition to the large shopping center, 27 supported, and a few either did not comment on that aspect of the plan or did not express a clear opinion.

That’s a 2-1 margin against. To call it “roughly equal” seems beyond an innocent mistake.

Since the county is being asked for dollars, it seems particularly relevant that another 30 or so individuals testified who were county residents or didn’t give an address. And 27 of them expressed opposition.

The overwhelming majority of those who testified understand our community’s future rests on a healthy downtown and commercial core on Highway 99W; the expansion and retention of existing businesses; and new employers providing family-wage jobs, not low-wage retail jobs.

Building a new “town center” across the expressway is a bad bet that many other communities have taken and lost.

Sid Friedman



Wizard at work

It is amazing that the backers of a mall on Three Mile Lane claim to know exactly how many trips city residents make to Newberg, but can’t tell us the costs of the Three Mile Lane Area Plan or how much you, the taxpayer, will have to pony up.

They claim to know exactly how much money we spend elsewhere, but can’t — or won’t — tell us what the developers will pay to create a new intersection and road into their huge mall.

They claim increased traffic won’t be a problem, but simultaneously have plans to spend an undetermined amount of taxpayer money to fix the problem of increased traffic congestion.

They claim to know exactly what the public wants, even though they can’t offer any verifiable evidence. They claim we desperately need commercial space, but can’t explain why there are numerous vacant storefronts on 99W at both ends of town.

They have shared pictures of a grand Innovation Center, but can’t tell us anything more — including who will pay for it or what it might be used for. They apparently know that the Three Mile Lane Area Plan will be approved, because they are asking the county to contribute money before the council even votes.

Most incredible of all, they know the taxpayers are going to happily pay for everything — although not how — even though we are in a budget crunch and have numerous other unmet civic needs.

How can they know so much and so little at the same time? Does it remind you of the Wizard of Oz?

Margaret Cross



Rolling the dice

The McMinnville City Council will soon vote on the Three Mile Lane Area Plan, which provides for more than 650,000 square feet of retail space on Highway 18.

This enormous shopping center will supposedly stanch the loss of more than $100 million being spent outside the area, aka “retail leakage.” However, it turns out that money being spent here is only about $9 million less than that being spent elsewhere.

How either number is arrived at seems to be a state secret, so checking them is impossible.

But just looking at money in and money out, the leakage is actually $9 million. It’s not the $100 million used to justify an oversized retail center, the income from which will supposedly magically defray some of the costs of the fantasy “innovation center” proposed next door.

The developer needs lots of customers for the retail center to pencil out. He says customers from Portland to the coast will flock to this just-like-every-place-else shopping mecca.

In order for Highway 18 not to clog up due to all the extra cars swarming to the shopping center, new frontage roads are required. ODOT says that McMinnville will be on the hook for most of the cost of these roads.

Additionally, at the July hearing, a traffic engineer admitted that on the north side of Highway 18, the most direct frontage road route would either go through the buildings or the parking lot on the Chemeketa campus. Now that’s planning!

What are the costs for purchasing rights of way, road improvements, infrastructure and increased fire and police protection? Will McMinnville net enough income over the long haul to cover these huge, unknown costs? Will this giant shopping center affect the rest of McMinnville’s retail economy?

No one knows the answers to these and many other questions. A rather big gamble, no?

Ilsa Perse



Vital information

Much appreciation to staff writer Nicole Montesano for her excellent article of Aug. 18, “Critics ask for DEQ to toughen landfill closure permit.” It presented opposing ideas and their premise with scientific documentation, including photographs of the area.

I do not live in Oregon. I live in Orange County, California.

Previously, my family owned property in Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley, California, which are geologically identified as liquefaction risk areas. That helped me become aware of the possible dangers related to this condition.

Riverbend Landfill is located immediately above the South Yamhill River, a precious water resource. Without a doubt, there will be  leaching and contamination, despite the toxic runoff area created in an attempt to prevent it.

My education and experience is in epidemiology, public and environmental health, and occupational, community and clinical nursing.

In my many years of experience, I have seen government and its agencies being reactive rather than proactive, thus failing to make financial provision for future events.

Recently, leaching that was referred to as “hypothetical” instead of “highly probable” has been in the news. This is costing taxpayers millions of dollars in reparations, cleanup, life-long health care and needless death and disability.

Sadly, it comes long after the responsible companies have collected their profits and moved out. Take Flint, Michigan, and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for example. And note that contagious diseases, notably polio, are being detected in wastewater in New York City and other areas.

Thanks to Yamhill County’s News-Register coverage, your community is now aware of pending endangerment. Local newspapers continue to establish their importance by sharing such vital information.

Carol Hughes

Orange County, California


Web Design and Web Development by Buildable