Long-time Chinook Observer editor Wayne O’Neil used to express frustration at Washington State Parks, which he regarded as tone deaf to local preferences and needs. Thirty or so years on from Wayne’s time, it would be fair to say that Parks can still be irksome at times. But wow, we are nevertheless lucky to have them. We have parks (and a National Wildlife Refuge) of international standing.
The amount of money and thought Washington state puts into Cape Disappointment — an asset operated under a cooperative arrangement with the National Park Service — is phenomenal. Our April 3 story sketched forthcoming work around the park’s main entry, and reviewed the high points of what has been done in the 15 years since the park’s master plan was approved. A world-class trail system, complete restoration of the 1898 North Head Lighthouse, the Beards Hollow overlook and the Maya Lin Confluence Project are among the biggest successes. (Although it is an entirely federal project, ongoing reconstruction of North Jetty may also improve the park by stabilizing the shoreline and providing informal access to popular fishing grounds.)
To the extent they aren’t stuck with the onerous task of enforcing the Discovery Pass parking fee, local Parks personnel are invariably polite and knowledgeable.
As Parks digs into what it calls the Isthmus Plan, we hope they will carefully consider whether it’s advisable to situate major infrastructure in an area that would be flooded by a tsunami and which could face risk from tidal inundation as this warming century wears on. On the subject of replacing eroding campgrounds near Benson Beach, the agency faces a similar challenge in providing seashore access to campers while keeping them safe and not throwing money away on locations that will be under water in coming decades.
The surge in construction activity in Pacific and Clatsop counties makes it painfully obvious that we continue to pay a steep price for the loss of many skilled workers during the housing crash a decade ago. It’s great seeing new buildings going up in large numbers, but it must be a worry to contractors and subcontractors who have to try to find, hire and retain qualified carpenters, electricians, plumbers, roofers and other specialists.
At the same time, it’s a struggle for many local young people to gain a foothold on the job ladder. Yes, there are many service industry jobs. We’ve commented to community leaders that if days were 36 hours long, it would be possible for a responsible worker to string together four full-time minimum-wage jobs. There are a bunch of them between the two sides of the river. It’s much more difficult to get started on the kinds of jobs that potentially pay a living wage in the reality of a 24-hour day.
Skilled employment in construction is among the most useful and honorable of careers. Ilwaco High School’s Stephen Blasko has been leading the charge on this kind of job preparation for years now. We’re fortunate to have him. Our story last week spotlighted his contributions, and that of the Oman family and employees, who make generous donations to assist students as they build lifetime skills. Even if he or she ultimately doesn’t work in construction, every young person will benefit from learning to do home maintenance and improvement.
Congratulations and thanks to Blasko and the Omans.
The Ocean Park-centered Village Club is a wonderful resurrection of an old-time tradition of community self-improvement and advocacy.
We’ve been thrilled to see and report on the club’s efforts to address matters ranging from solid-waste disposal to street safety. This spring, the club’s daffodil-planting campaign is paying off with a spectacular band of color along area byways — most obviously beside the Beach to Bay Trail paralleling Bay Avenue. It was lots of work and cost quite a bit, and will require some degree of ongoing maintenance and replenishment, but what a nice thing to do!
Twenty-five years ago an exploratory effort by the Ocean Park Area Chamber of Commerce to test support for area incorporation came to nothing. The result might not be much different today — the north end’s independent-minded people have been consistently skeptical of creating a layer of government that might compete — or oversee — the popular Pacific County Fire District No. 1. However, just think of what 25 years of locally generated property taxes might have accomplished if they had all stayed where they were produced.
The Village Club — by acting as sort of a New England-style direct democracy — goes at least part of way toward filling the gap left by having what is in effect a city with no city council.
It was astounding going through a few of long-time photographer Damian Mulinix’s many thousands of images in the course of gathering a representation of his work on pages A12 and 13 this week.
A century from now, his photos will still be how people understand what our lives were like. His work will stand as an enduring monument to a beautiful set of seashore communities, and to a talented man who made his stand here.