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OC annexation equals job creation, public safety

As a resident of the proposed Park Place annexation area, I'm amused every time anyone objects to passing these desperately needed job-creation ballot measures. Don't they realize that every new road, sewer and water line creates new employment opportunities for local Oregon City citizens? Did I also mention that it increases the city's local tax base through the construction of every new home?

The approval of these measures would provide additional funds every year that are made available to pay for our existing city public streets and services. Studies have proven that the positive ripple effect of having new jobs in a community is felt many times over by the local businesses that benefit. That means you and your neighbors.

In reading Mike and Jan Grady's Community Soapbox article, I am wondering which public hearing they attended. The one I saw on video portrayed a much different and positive picture by Mr. Ziegler for helping to solve the city's problems. Mr. Ziegler, who is a strong job proponent for the area, knows what it takes, having grown up here and having been a successful local businessman in the area. He was not making any threats, but was laying out potential solutions to some of the city's existing 'deathtraps' within our area.

The Gradys tend to focus on the fact that drinking from a 70-year-old city asbestos waterline is okay, and that my neighbors and I shouldn't worry or get upset. Let me ask them: would they do it? Would they sing the same tune if their water tested as foul-smelling as my city water did? In fact, I actually believe that one of the reasons I may have developed throat cancer is because of the potentially deadly water line having never been replaced. Does someone actually have to die before our 'basic human rights' are dealt with and hopefully addressed?

I almost died once before from our road being flooded when I was having a heart attack, and we had to drive through three feet of water to get to the hospital. Sooner or later, something very serious is going to happen here if we aren't allowed to fix these public safety problems.

All we ask as property owners in the area is the ability to pay with our own money 'fixes' to these existing and ongoing dangerous issues. We have failing septics in the area, as well as fire hydrants that have no pressure to put out a fire if it occurred.

Our dead-end road is more than a mile long, when the city's code states that it should be no longer than 350 feet without a secondary emergency vehicle access. Even the city's adjacent subdivisions are failing to meet this requirement.

Again, Mr. Ziegler laid out solutions to solve these obvious public safety concerns. Why would the Gradys or anyone object to that unless they have a very personal, selfish agenda? It's called, 'I've got mine, but I don't want you to have yours.'

In addition, what the Gradys didn't hear, or chose not to, is that Mr. Ziegler and the rest of us were going to work with the city to provide all the land needed for this emergency vehicle access so that both the city's existing communities and our property would now be much safer.

According to a recent city consultant report, it could cost the city's existing citizens up to $500,000 to make these necessary water repairs. Why not save the citizens that money and let us do it as part of the creation of our adjoining neighborhood. We ask for no subsidies, just the right to live like everyone else with clean water and functioning sewers.

By the way, when did the word 'annexation' become such a discussion issue? For the most part, 100 percent of all the previous annexations have been approved by Oregon City citizens in the past. Folks in the community recognized the need to continue to provide positive growth so that we and our neighbors could find work and continue to stay employed. Right now, with the real unemployment rate at closer to 20 percent, we need to do everything we can to support job growth, especially when it doesn't cost us anything but might actually saves hundreds of thousands of dollars for our city.

Don't fall for their attempts to sway you away from the most important issue our city, state and country is facing right now: JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!

Our city commission should be commended for taking the action they did in forwarding this ballot measure on to the citizens for a vote. If you want positive economic growth that generates additional funding for the city and for local businesses, support our annexation.

(George Thomas and his wife live in the proposed Park Place annexation area of Oregon City. He submitted this article in response to two related articles published here on Aug 31.)