Why not a youth camp at Mill Creek?
- Pamplin Media
- Central Oregonian - News
the editor: “What’s the fight really about?” Heated debates are springing up left and right at the mention of the proposed youth camp. It all began with the request for a building permit filed by a youth ministry known as Outreach Northwest. The request entailed constructing phases of buildings located on nearly two hundred acres of the Stein’s Hereford Ranch in the Mill Creek area. The camp in short is a form of ministry. Three hearings have been held by the county planning commission to address Outreach Northwest’s ability to properly dispose of sewage, safely direct traffic, adequately maintain the privacy of neighboring landowners, as well as other concerns. Heated opposition from local landowners meets the applicant’s every response to concerns, and there seems to be no agreeable resolution on the horizon. Chet Peterson, head of the planning commission, predicted no matter what the board’s decision, it will be appealed. Why can there not be an agreement between the two sides? The answer lies in a deeper look at the foundation of the conflict. The conflict needs to be objectively viewed as whether or not Outreach Northwest can meet all the regulations required to build a youth camp. In the words of Chet Peterson, and I paraphrase, the issue is not the need of the youth camp nor is it a matter of religion, it’s the capability of the camp to build a compliant youth camp. With this in mind and in the light of the adequacy of Outreach Northwest’s responses it seems that is not enough. What has become unwavering opposition continues to ask more and more questions. Why so many questions? Questions that overlook perfectly good answers and are on the verge of ridiculous. For example, some local residents have brought up concerns regarding the presence of cougars and bears in the area. I asked the question, “If the wildlife is a threat in the Mill Creek area, why do you live there?” I think that an explanation for the debate lies in the stubbornness of several landowners who perhaps have adopted a biased and unrealistic perspective. A perspective that has been clouded by personal fears or perhaps inward resistance to the camp, regardless of its compliance with laws. Very bluntly said, the opposition is saying they don’t want the camp to be built even if it is constructed in compliance with all regulations. I challenge the opposition to determine and assess what exactly is fueling their arguments. What reason beyond the concern of meeting regulations is spurring a resounding “NO!” Is it an inward determination to deep the camp out, regardless of its capabilities and compliance, or is there truly a concern that the youth camp will turn Mill Creek into an overrun wasteland? May the opposition rethink their arguments and may their outcry address the real debate of building a law-abiding institution. Arguments beyond this scope would waste time. So may the valid arguments be heard and may the outcome be just. Amy Piepenbrink Prineville