Two Views • Controversy has bottled up Nestle's proposed plant in the Columbia River Gorge
A multinational corporation with deep pockets wishes to set up shop in Cascade Locks (Nestlé tapping Gorge water, Nov. 11). But since this company wants to tap into water from Oxbow Creek, its proposed move to this town has become a very volatile issue.
A quick overview of what we know: Nestlé Waters North America wants to use water at the rate of 225 gallons per minute from the local creek; $2 million a year would be earned in property tax revenue; the company would give about 50 jobs to the local townspeople; and Cascade Locks has about a 20 percent unemployment rate.
Some ask, is it wrong to bottle and sell a natural resource? The list of arguments for and against this facility goes on and on.
Will Cascade Locks welcome Nestlé, or send them down the road?
Arguments will come up against any company that would bring jobs to this area. Computer chip makers, a sports apparel company, even a brewery, would run into the same type of complaints. In other municipalities, they already have. The complaints are never ending - environmental or otherwise. Will people be able to accept that changing the face of this community is needed?
This town is not part of the national scenic area. You can build just about anything you want inside the city limits. Look outside; it's really soggy, causing Oxbow Creek to run 3,000 gallons a minute. Supplying 225 gallons a minute (to Nestlé) is not a problem, especially since the city uses well water for drinking.
The city has something to sell, and jobs will be created. People have to look at the future, and welcoming a stable company that gives jobs and spends money is a smart move. So, why all the fuss?
The real issue is this: the enduring 'not in my back yard' battle cry. If you want an area to grow, you have to welcome growth. Keeping growth away is detrimental, to say the least, yet it is typical of this place. Look what has transpired in Cascade Locks in the past 20 years: This town has a good elementary school, but no high school. It has high unemployment, no job base, and little tourism besides freeway traffic. People who come here stop for the ice cream (it is really good ice cream), and perhaps they have lunch at the Charburger, but that's all. The town has Sternwheeler Days and a few other small festivals, but activity otherwise is not forthcoming. An estimated 80 percent of residents here drive to Portland for work. Having a stable company come into Cascade Locks would more than likely spurn others to look at locating here too, bringing even more jobs.
We know firsthand what happens in areas where you want something but are not willing to give anything for it - it is what we have now. The lack of foresight and planning for the future has financially crippled this small town and doomed it to be nothing but a bump in the freeway. We do not need the next 20 years to go by in the same manner. People need jobs and income now and in the future.
There are complaints that truck traffic will be detrimental to the town and the pollution and noise levels will be intolerable. Also under scrutiny is maintenance of local roads. With an extra $2 million (probably more with other revenue) in taxes, the roads can be repaired from truck traffic, if they even drive through the center of town at all. There are other freeway accesses just east of here, not just the ones that the townspeople typically use.
Since pollution and maintenance are a hot button, ask yourself: How much pollution do you personally create by driving to Portland to work? How much wear and tear on the roads do you cause, and noise on our streets do you create now? Keeping any interested parties, not just Nestlé, out of our backyard because of thin arguments like these is and has been counterproductive and shortsighted. Bottling water is not wrong; it gives people a healthy alternative to soda and other stylized drinks.
Let's look at this again: A multinational corporation with deep pockets wishes to set up shop in Cascade Locks. Jobs will be created. The tax base will increase. The city will enjoy more income. People will spend more time and money in Cascade Locks. Cascade Locks will grow. It will become a more desirable place to live, and more opportunities for income will become available through others bringing businesses here.
Our future does not lie in the hands of Nestlé - it rests with us. Using the overabundance of water to create jobs is very good. It's time to grow.
Daniel Nix is a general contractor living in Cascade Locks.