Roger Currier: Back in the day, goal was to make our parks better

News-Register file photo##This 2011 photo shows property near the former Whiteson Landfill that the Yamhill County Parks Department had hoped to turn into a park and campground.
News-Register file photo##This 2011 photo shows property near the former Whiteson Landfill that the Yamhill County Parks Department had hoped to turn into a park and campground.

After reading all the letters about the pros and cons of the county’s parks, trail and recreation efforts, I felt I should drop my thoughts into the issue.

I served as a member of the Yamhill County Parks Board from 1982 to 1992, and as chair the last eight of those years, until a term limit was instituted.

We were the ones who had to plead with the commissioners to “create” a budget for county parks. Up to that time, even toilet paper came from a general budget.

I’m not sure where Tom Genco, the county’s only parks employee, drew his pay from. But it took us at least three years just to get a hand-crank lift for his truck so he could pick up dead animals for us.

Genco worked out of something in the yard that looked more like an outhouse than an office. He made do with a riding mower that looked as if it were wired together, as we had no money allotted.

But we were dedicated to the parks program and did all we could to create ways to find money. We even leased Deer Creek Park out once a year to the Society for Creative Anachronism, which staged mock battles between knights in armor.

The society brought in its own potable water and cleaned the grounds after wrapping up its re-enactments.

Every year I drove out to check on the situation. It was perfect every time, with never an accident or problem.

We managed to complete an inventory of all the property we owned, though some later got sold off. We actually drove out on our own to most of it to see first-hand what we had where.

When we hit salt water looking for potable water at Ed Grenfell Park, some of us went out to see. That’s how we did things.

In our quest for ways to gain funds or allocations, we lost a huge one when the commissioners decided at one point to classify the fairgrounds as a park. It seemed to fit just about every category for grants, so began siphoning off all the money that might have otherwise gone into outdoor recreation.

We had big plans for improvements on the hundred-acre site adjacent to the long-closed Whiteson Landfill when it was finally declared safe, but the commissioners never could get up the gumption to follow through.

We were also the ones who started the talks about what’s now known as the Yamhelas Westsider Trail, the trail so hated by the current commissioners. Of course, it was just referred to then as a rails-to-trails project, as that was what the rest of the country was calling them.

We had no money to purchase the right of way then, as our primary source was the State Marine Board, which was focused on Rogers Landing.

We were eager to see how the rail-to-trail conversion from Banks to Vernonia would turn out and how much it would be used. These days, they run out of parking spaces over there, with so many families wanting to get out and enjoy nature without traffic problems.

And it doesn’t just go “near” farmland. It actually passes through some farmers’ backyards.

That argument of trails being a problem for farmers is really a dumb one. It sounds more like a case of big donations “helping” people make up their minds on voting.

In closing, my comment would be that this board was originally made up of lay people with no connection to anyone who voted on their budget.

It consisted of people who cared about the outdoors and family enjoyment, keeping that foremost in mind. It was devoted to creating ways and places to help keep families enjoying the outdoors together as long and as often as possible — and free to use, as it was paid for in their taxes.

Thanks to all of you out there who served with me over that 10 years to make our parks better!



3 reasons you should NOT vote for Lindsay:
1. Lindsay's campaign is funded by the George Family, owners of one of the largest hazelnut processing companies in the country. Nothing wrong with that. Where it becomes very, very wrong is when she represents only the big money that helped get her get elected and blatantly ignores the wishes of the citizen majority.
2. Here's one example of how Lindsay serves her wealthy farmer campaign supporters and ignores pure and simple betterment for citizens: In 2020 Lindsay killed the Yamhelas Westsider Trail, even though construction had already begun and it meant returning hefty private donations and a $1.5 million grant to the state. She killed it because her farmer supporters are against having regular people (ugh!) sully "their" lovely county. She killed it even though an online petition in June of 2021 gathered more than 3,200 signatures in favor of the trail.
3. Lindsay appointed six candidates with jaw-dropping conflicts of and lack of qualifications to the county parks advisory board. One of them is her husband. One of them is Celine McCarthy. McCarthy and her husband, Greg, who was convicted in federal court last year of financial fraud, were among the largest campaign finance donors to Lindsay.
4. There are many more examples of this politician's wily undertakings. You'll find them in Mac's News-Register newspaper. Keep informed. Everybody rise up and vote for Bubba King.


Roger Currier's Commentary title (more likely created by the News-Register Editorial Staff) suggests that today's goal for Yamhill County parks is to not make them better. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Facts: The proposed FY 2024-25 county parks budget includes 2.95 FTEs for personnel, plus extra funding to hire summer interns for parks patrols. It includes sufficient funding to hire a consultant to help us develop a new parks master plan, which will help direct us to meet park and public needs while also supporting future grant funding requests. The public will be given plenty of opportunities to provide input to that plan over the next year or so. The budget also includes System Development Charges (SDCs) to make planned improvements to Deer Creek Prairie, Charles Metsker, Rogers Marine Landing, and Stuart Grenfell Wayside Parks. In the recent past SDC funding has helped us replace a leaking vault toilet, repair the road bridge, and install a off-leash dog area at Ed Grenfell Park.
A recent organizational change has moved the county Parks Division from the Dept. of Community Justice to Public Works, and this new relationship has allowed us to recently replace the road bridge at Charles Metsker Park.
We have also been able to complete a development plan for our Whiteson property, and are seeking ways to begin that development.
Contrary to the comments posted by "manyhands" on 4/26, there are no qualifications for positions on our Parks Advisory Board, nor are there any current conflicts of interest impeding pursuit of our goals. All Board members are actively engaged. Not only are we currently working with 4 West Valley organizations willing to help us improve our parks, we are again holding our Summer Puzzle Quest activity from Memorial to Labor Day this year.
I urge "manyhands" to stop believing what is posted on social media and disseminating incorrect information and get the facts from the source.


Appointment of major political donors , and family members to influential positions does indeed create a conflict of interest. The opinions and ideas of All county taxpayers deserve to be represented in the decision making process, regardless of who they supported in the last election.


Culbert, it’s hard to take your constant defense of the current parks board seriously when you knew and expressed how unfortunate these appointments were. The thoughts here are absolutely fair. Long term park users and supporters should populate the Board, not political donors and personal cronies. Just because there’s no legal qualifications, doesn’t mean some people aren’t better suited to serve.


Thank you Roger for your well thought out and informative article. It is very much appreciated.

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