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Friday, May 4, 2012

Yamhill County Wants to Build A Park Next to a very Smelly Dump

This is a bit of a rant about a park and a dump and how the idea of building an amazing park with nature trails and clever interpretive kiosks and possible camping completely overshadows the basic fact that the location stinks. I mean that literally.
It will be kind of funny as the people who want to get in touch with nature are the very same people who will be totally offended by the sight and smell of a huge mound of garbage and so I really kind of hate to object. I think huge government failures are pretty amusing, in a bitter ironic way.
The point of this post is that I went to a Yamhill Planning commission meeting last night. It was an amazing example of democracy in action.
It was amazing and depressing all at the same time.
The Yamhill County Parks Commission (or what ever it is called) wants to put in a park.
I really hate to be against parks. In fact if it were 30 years ago and I had not seen the de-evolution of local culture or I had not had to put up with the litter and crime associated with parks near places I farm, (Deer Creek Park, The park on Mill Creek next to Harmony Road and Hwy 18, the unofficial and illegal park at the former Green Bridge, old park at the dump known as Monroe Landing,) I would be in favor of the park. It is kind of a neat design.
However... (Rant follows-there are no pictures-just another one of my painfully long monologues)
Some years ago the country purchased property for a buffer zone around the old landfill on our side of the river. This was due to several lawsuits and problems with the old landfill and the neighbors.
But the memory of a bureaucracy is not much longer than the retirement age of the involved  minor officials and so all the controversy surrounding those events of 30 years ago has been forgotten.
So when the new Parks Commission figured out these 90 some acres that were being leased to a neighboring farmer they only saw space for the future crown jewel of the Yamhill County Parks department.
They have an official planner and there are people with degrees in such things and there are local people that are on the Parks Commission and they all need to feel useful and important.
They mostly talk to each other and go to seminars and tell each other how smart they are and how important their jobs are and how the peasants need parks and how parks will bring jobs and sustainability and whatever current buzzwords they have just learned in whatever wonderful self congratulating seminars they have just attended.
It would appear that no one really thought about what would really happen if you situated a park next to a smelly landfill. No one actually visited the proposed site often enough to smell the landfill. No one actually talked to any of the residents before picking a site.
The one commission member who testified told us with a straight face that Sheriff’s Department response time, the smell of the landfill, what was buried in the landfill, and why a buffer zone was purchased, was not really what the Parks Commission took into account when the site was chosen.
In fact, we should accept all inconveniences for the “public good” and that no one really liked having a park on their road and all crime and traffic problems were offset by the good experiences had by people from outside our community who would enjoy the park.
It was obvious that they did not see a connection between crime and traffic problems and a neighborhood reluctance to see a park built.
Instead all the protests from neighbors were categorized as a “Not in my Backyard” response and fall under the age old category of “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs,” concept of government steamrolling the individual.
That is the sort of bureaucratic thought that causes me to say, “screw the public good, build it next to your house you arrogant SOB…" but I didn't...
But all talk of traffic problems, security issues, and "Not in my Back Yard" issues aside, the self important maroons on the Yamhill County Parks Commission are proposing the building of a park with nature trails next to a giant stinking pile of garbage. A pile of garbage that catches on fire from time to time. A pile of garbage that emits random explosions from time to time.
A nature park, that when the future plans for camping spaces are phased in, will provide campers with the roar of giant bulldozers and incessant beeping of backup alarms. (Well, not during the weekends. Of course the 200 cars a day going past my house on Sunday-the one day a week I take off work, is for the greater good and I should just smile and say “thank you may I have another.”)
Where is the sense of perspective?
I really couldn’t read the opinions of the Planning Commission members. They seemed a bit amazed at the strength of the opposition. One would hope that they would be more in tune with rural fears and values.
I personally feel somewhat uncomfortable with opposing this park. It sounds like a good idea in many ways. However, I had to remind myself of a couple truths I’ve found over the years. 1. It will not work out like they say 2. It will be much bigger than they claim. 3. It will be painful in the long run.
Of course the bottom line is, Yamhill county has 90 acres just sitting there. They have to do something with it.  The head of the parks department wants to make a park to build his resume.
All this talk of the public good is just a rationalization to give the him and the parks commission self worth and job satisfaction.
I don’t want a park on my road because I don’t want a lot of environmentalist city folk driving past my place, imagining that I am spraying toxic chemicals, blocking me driving my wide farm equipment down the highway on the weekend, and annoying me in my yards as my house is 20 feet from the road.
Then when they discover the park stinks and quit going, the drinkers and drug users will move in cause they don’t care that it stinks and we will have to lock everything up.
The parks department and the parks commission will take absolutely no responsibility after the fact. Their goal is to build a “legacy” park.
That is the bottom line…


  1. Sounds like some of those "parks" need to be converted back to farm land. But of course growing food is not much of a priority in North America as long as it is cheap and plentiful.

  2. Sounds like a good place for a farmers co-op.

  3. I can relate. Benton County wants to buy an abandoned railroad track and convert it to a bike path. It runs right through our farm. You can guess that I'm not too enthused about it. It IS pretty funny when the clever folks in semi-high places in Corvallis (or McMinnville) have to come out and meet with the unwashed country bumpkins! Let's just say that facial expressions are fun to watch.

    1. Orin, the bottom line is they would not be real happy if you or I started using their backyard hot tub but if it is in a farmer's backyard then it is "for the public good."

  4. Options if it goes through:
    Open a bike repair shop.
    Build a drive through coffee kiosk.
    Weld together junk and sell it as art by the road
    In a last resort action start a hog farm or dairy.
    (my apologies to the hog & dairy farms).

  5. Muddy, Yamhill county would not let me open a bike repair shop, coffee kiosk, or a CAFO that is not in the public good.
    However, we are grandfathered in. Have been trying to get the uncle to sell beer.
    I bet we could put in a Wine Tasting room!


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