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Put contaminated site to productive use

Readers' Letters
by: Christopher Onstott, All that remains of the former golf driving range along Northeast  
82nd Avenue is its wooden rain cover and club house. The one-time landfill has not been redeveloped, even though the owner has worked with the state Department of Environmental Quality to handle the methane at the 26-acre site.

This type of reality blurs the vision for Portland by those who would rather not look at a brownfield or crumbling Sellwood Bridge (Turning brown to green not so easy, Nov. 11).

While busy subsidizing housing, gentrification, education, bike traffic and mass transit, dangerous eyesores such as failing bridges and contaminated properties serve as little more than an excuse for increases in rates, fees, taxes, regulation and administration. If carcinogens or other extremely hazardous conditions were present at this site, the history of regulatory constraint would be necessary. The truth of the matter is more telling as to why nothing can be done with the site. Government bureaucracy gets a big piece of such action or nothing happens.

I enjoyed the driving range and was disappointed but not surprised when it failed. It would be telling to see what the tax and costs were. If tax incentives can be granted for trendy lofts and non self-sustaining bike travel, why shouldn't Mike Hashem have some tax incentives extended to him for having obliged Department of Environmental Quality requirements?

How many Christmas trees could have been grown and sold right in the neighborhood since the termination of the landfill? If the only hazard is methane, it is difficult to imagine there would be any negative consequences and perhaps conceivable that a possible 681 Christmas trees per acre would speed the recovery of the land or at least keep it somewhat productive.

Don't like the Christmas tree idea? How about growing soy for biodiesel or cottonwood for pulp or any vegetation for biomass? Why not a conditional mixed use for soy, cottonwood, Christmas tress, a food cart and drive-through laundry and coffee corral and a farmers market? All of which would be temporary and could be run by minority businesses that could be tax exempt or at least pay a reduced tax.

The answer: Fixing problems in a conscientious way does not allow a bureaucracy to continue capitalizing on mistakes made in the past.

Christopher W. Osborn

Southeast Portland

Wal-Mart would have been better

Well, I'm embarrassed to say that my neighbors in the Roseway area came by with petitions advocating not supporting the development of a Wal-Mart at Siskiyou Square because it attracts 'those kind of people' and would increase traffic (Turning brown to green not so easy, Nov. 11).

I countered that Wal-Mart paid more than the median income of our neighborhood, and could constitute an opportunity for neighborhood residents. I pointed out that 82nd Avenue was also Oregon State Highway 213, and that highways were suppose to carry increased traffic through the city, and the state for that matter. I am not embarrassed that our family shops at Wal-Mart and Winco, because our budget demands we shop for the lowest price.

Yes, my neighbors are rather impressed with themselves, and unaware that others in the neighborhood would welcome any opportunity to improve their ability to earn a higher income.

Mark Gravengaard

Northeast Portland

Land should be used for industry

It would be interesting to try to grow crops on the (brownfield) land (Turning brown to green not so easy, Nov. 11). But I doubt if you'd find anyone willing to pony up $5 million to grow wheat, or even ornamentals.

What it really needs to be used for is hardcore industrial land. Not mixed use - who wants to live on an abandoned landfill? But factories usually don't care, especially if the land is 'fixed.'

Jim Ourada

Aloha

Parole officers act like slave masters

I am not sure if this is an article or a fundraiser (Parole officers are Oregon's new jailers, Nov. 4). If I only had a nickel for every time the phrase 'budget cuts' was used. Furthermore, how great is it to live in a society where you can have half the population employed to police and dominate the other half? Instead of parole officers, let's get real and call them what they are: roving slave masters.

Clearly the nanny state is one industry that is thriving in these awful economic times.

Rest in peace, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and George Washington.

Geoff Rode

Southeast Portland

Probation only enables criminals

Regarding 'Parole officers are Oregon's new jailers' (Nov. 4), remember that little girl who was raped and murdered in Clark County, Wash., while the parolee was wearing a GPS tracking bracelet? If that murdering scumbag was locked up in prison or jail where he should have been, that little girl would still be alive.

How many times do you have to read a newspaper article, hear a news story on the radio or see a news story on the television where an inmate was released from jail or prison early and placed on probation or parole - and then went on killing, raping, robbing - before you realize that when they are in prison and jail they cannot hurt the public?

Wake up, people! Parole and probation do not stop criminals. They only enable them to continue their chosen career: a career of crime.

David Feist

Sandy

Program saves incarceration costs

I'm not sure why 'experts' think the Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) program is expensive (Parole officers face tough choices as budgets tighten, Nov. 11). They must not have read the evaluation report.

For every dollar spent on the program, it saves $5 in incarceration costs. The dramatic reductions in crime and drug abuse among probationers would justify the program even if it were costly, but in fact it's not.

What's expensive is a system that keeps sending people back to prison, because it fails to control their behavior when they're outside.

Mark A.R. Kleiman

Author, 'When Brute Force Fails'

Los Angeles