Letters to the Editor: Jan. 20, 2023

Unnecessary risk

If the litmus test for preserving a historic building is whether or not it would provide more revenue than a six-story luxury hotel, then every historic building on Third Street would be demolished. Thankfully, that’s not the criteria the Historic Landmarks Committee used to tentatively deny Hugh Development and Otak’s request to demolish three historic buildings and build the proposed Gwendolyn Hotel.

The applicant argued in a Jan. 17 News-Register article that the hotel’s economic benefits to the city outweighed other concerns and amounts to our only chance at becoming Oregon’s leading wine tourism destination. But in fact, this hotel could be built as little as one block away, providing the touted benefits without jeopardizing the Downtown Historic District.

The most shocking revelation of the Jan. 5 committee meeting was the National Park Service leaving open the possibility that demolishing the three buildings could force dissolution of the historic district or reassessment of its boundaries.

If the benefit of a hotel operated by a national corporation outweighs the small town charm of Third Street, then McMinnville risks losing the “secret sauce” that attracts visitors and locals to it in the first place. Our city’s economic potential and Third Street’s historic character do not play out in an all-or-nothing zero-sum game.

All three historic buildings generate rent so provide an economic benefit. Originally auto garages, they represent the beginning of the city’s automobile era and retain the potential to be restored.

Their size and massing contributes to Third Street’s coziness, which a six-story hotel would surely destroy. I hope the committee will uphold its tentative vote, and that any commissions who may review an appeal see the unnecessary risk this project poses to our city’s heritage.

Daniel Kiser



Good deal for Mac

I believe the Historic Landmarks Committee’s decision to deny the Gwendolyn Hotel permission to build in downtown McMinnville is wrongheaded.

The current usage of the decrepit buildings slated for demolition is bringing very little employment, economic activity or tax revenue to the city.

The developers want to make a $60 million capital investment in our city, including land, demolition and construction costs. Does anyone on the committee plan to make that kind of investment in our city? I think not.

One can argue how much of the labor would be locally sourced. However, more than none is a reasonable estimate. In addition, local suppliers and vendors are likely to have a shot at contracts for the project.

We should be working with the developer to encourage and facilitate local participation in construction. We need partnership, not opposition.

Estimated operating income from the project starts at $2.7 million and rises to $5 million over the first five years of operations. If the hotel’s operating margins match the luxury hotel average of 33.3% by year five, this means a revenue estimate of approximately $15 million annually.

Payroll for luxury hotels averages 36.4% of revenue. Thus, wages and benefits coming into town from this project would run $5.5 million a year. At 70 full time equivalent positions, wages would average $39 an hour.

We say that we don’t want more vacation rentals, but we want more jobs and visitor spending in our community. This project achieves those goals.

Let’s find a way to make this work.

We would get a building that would provide economic benefit to the city now and still be worth protecting in 100 years. I believe this is a good deal for McMinnville.

John Linder



Preserve the charm

I listened to six of the seven-plus hours of the Historic Landmarks Committee hearing regarding the demolition of three historic buildings to make way for a 90-room luxury hotel. But the News-Register article did not report one word of what committee members said in support of denying demolition of the buildings.

These dedicated unpaid citizens were in the unenviable position of having to face the phalanx of highly-paid developers and attorneys, and they more than held their own. They had obviously done a great deal of homework, and it showed in the many thoughtful arguments bolstering their position. Yet the newspaper didn’t bother to quote any of them, while dedicating hundreds of words to the case made by the developers.

The newspaper’s Jan. 17 edition printed what was essentially an infomercial for the developers. The reporter of these stories didn’t bother to look through the record to see letters from citizens and local business owners making many reasoned arguments about why McMinnville doesn’t need a giant, luxury hotel that would turn McMinnville into a wine Disneyland.

Third Street is famous not because it features wine bars and luxury lodgings, but because it is a real place where folks can get their shoes resoled and watches repaired, where they can buy groceries, vacuum cleaners, books, clothes, art and more. Tourists don’t want to visit towns that have been destroyed by developers, losing all vestiges of what made them famous in the first place.

As a Third Street business owner, I have talked to visitors from Bend who want to move to McMinnville, because tourism and development have made Bend unlivable. Perhaps developers see that potential for McMinnville, but I doubt that’s what people who live here want.

Ilsa Perse



Grateful in McMinnville

I recently had two very special events happen to me.

One occurred a few days before Christmas when I got to the checkout stand at the grocery store and discovered I had lost my billfold. As I left, a lovely young lady ran after me, handed me my one intended purchase and said “MERRY CHRISTMAS.” I was so overwhelmed with her kindness that I didn’t even get her name.

About 15 minutes after I got home, the doorbell rang. It was a young man returning my billfold with a hearty “MERRY CHRISTMAS.” His 3-year-old daughter had spotted it in the parking lot.

I was completely blown away by the honesty and kindness of this young man. If he reads this letter, I have a lovely, cuddly teddy bear and I’m sure his sweet little daughter would provide a good home for it.

This world needs to hear more about the good people and good things that go on daily.

Donna Lunt



Help available

Dear mPTSD vet:

I saw you explode on an old lady in a shopping center parking lot. She was not parked in a vet parking space, city laws do not apply to private property, and she did you no harm.

Your temper is dangerous. Your “red-out” could go too far next time.

Please get help with your mPTSD. A powerful technique, Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT, is available for free at the VA hospital.

Sheila Hunter



Bring on Godzilla!

My son wrote a letter to the editor for a Scout merit badge about something from your paper — a children’s comic strip. I thought you might like to see it:

Dear News-Register

I was asked to read an article and write a response to the article and send it to the editor, so I picked an article from your paper.

I really liked the Breaking Cat News segment by Georgia Dunn. Could you have her write another please?

Ask her to make one with a bearded dragon acting like the lizard that fights the cat as Godzilla while knocking down a Lego tower! That would be really cool!

Thank you for your time!

- Zander Park, age 11

Kirsten Park



An easy fix

Now that both the former and current president are involved in scandals related to the handling of classified information, a person might wonder how this even happens. Who designed a classified documents system that has big holes in it where document security is concerned?

Anyone old enough to remember going to the library is familiar with their system.

You borrowed books. The library knew you had the books and expected them back by the due date. If they weren’t returned you got a notice — and a small fine.

People who have served in the military are familiar with the process of clearing post.

There is a checklist of things you need to do before you leave a base you’re stationed at. It makes sure you’ve turned in whatever equipment you were issued and makes sure your affairs are in order. You can’t leave until you get all the boxes checked.

How hard would it be to use the library system to control the issue and return of classified documents? Combine that with the need to clear post with the classified document agency and this shouldn’t happen.

Fred Fawcett



Start at beginning

There have been a lot of discussions lately about reparations. But the story should start at the beginning.

George Washington did not sail over to Africa and bring slaves back. European powers initiated the African slave trade in the 1400s, and came to enlist African tribes in raiding rival tribes to fill the holds of their ships.

Today, in Mombasa, Kenya, a former European colony that won its independence in 1948, the waterfront is still lined with old slave warehouses. So, for reparations, start with Kenya and work forward.

Don Bowie



Lame excuse

After all the consternation over former President Donald Trump keeping classified documents at his Secret Service protected residence in Florida, we now discover then Vice President Joe Biden had classified documents stored at his personal residence in Delaware. We are told to not worry because the documents were secured in a locked garage.

We might accept this lame excuse if not for the fact that President Biden’s ne’er do well son, Hunter, used the address on his driver’s license and other documents, suggesting he could have had unsecured access himself.

James Crawford





Don Dix

Little-known fact --As well as auto garages, there was a bowling alley on the 2nd floor of the NR building. Those lanes (6, I believe) were each moved out of a window in one piece to become part of the 'new' Walnut City Lanes in S. Mac. (late 50s, pre NR occupancy). Quite an undertaking in that era.

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