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Milwaukie: Small town pushed towards growth

The following was printed in the Milwaukie Pilot in March, 2001, and with their permission was submitted to the Review.

An Ode To Milwaukie

I am a small town, and I have a history, and from that history springs my own vision

As towns go I am not very old, about 100 years, really nothing. For many years, long ago, I was a community, and that is something that still runs through me and holds me together, and which is what I want to remain.

A sense of community is a very rare and precious thing.

I have memories of many years ago, of flour mills and lumber mills and a shipyard, and paddlewheelers; of loggers and men of the river; of the beautiful clean river flowing before me with the great white sternwheelers racing for the Sunday crowd lining my riverbank----and through all of this always coursed the spirit of community.

Time has dulled the edges of my individuality; I am not beautiful, although my basic character has remained unchanged; but I feel the community spirit waning, being replaced by frustration and anger. The community must be strengthened and restored.

Many people have remarked with pleasure that I have the feel of a small town, and I am happy with that, and it is what I wish to be.

I am a gateway, and pressures of growth are threatening me from every side, and I rely on those that govern and work for me to protect me from the outside influences that would crush a way of life and our community.

People of honor and courage, unfettered by selfish agendas or petty politics, must step forward to find a way, and there is one, to sensibly and realistically manage the human deluge that is on its way, to accommodate it but control it so that I remain an island of refuge within these regional boundaries.

I see myself growing gracefully, with beautiful shops lining my streets and my older buildings cherished and restored, and my neighborhoods peaceful and happy, and people again playing on the banks of a renewed sparkling river.

And above all, there must always be the love and sense of community.

As I review this now, I still retain a sense of hope. Metro is pushing us for more and more density, but I pray that our leadership will insist upon restraints that will control that density and keep it within the confines dictated by our infrastructure. Tri-Met is coming at us with their battering-ram of a light rail, but there is yet hope that they will have enough common sense to steer it away from any negative neighborhood impacts. And then again there is the sewage treatment plant - is there ever any hope there? Let's try and keep the faith.