It pained me to hear the recent news that Claude and Connie Noyes of Evergreen Septic were denied the conditional use permit they sought for their new base of operations in Ilwaco. I read, with increasing disbelief, the disgruntled letters sent in to the Observer by individuals woefully uninformed of the situation, voicing their fears that, somehow, the new site would "deface" the fair town and make it undesirable to residents and tourists alike.
This sentiment actually made me laugh.
I spent the first 18 years of my life on the Long Beach Peninsula, with residences in both Ilwaco and Klipsan, and not once in those 18 years - or during any of my subsequent visits - did the thought cross my mind that downtown Ilwaco was in danger of becoming a major tourist destination. Do not misunderstand me, I do not harbor ill will toward my hometown; neither is it my intent to belittle it. There are several wonderful areas of Ilwaco with prime examples of architecture and heritage, great shops and many fantastic people inhabiting them. My point is that I lived there for many years and know what it is, and do not hold some idealistic pretense in my mind about what it is not. Whether those who opposed granting the permit to Mr. Noyes have just settled in or have been there for decades is irrelevant. What is relevant, on the other hand, is that which seems to have taken flight throughout these entire proceedings: common sense.
What, exactly, set these residents into such a panic when they heard a respectable business might be moving within city limits? Jerry Coffin hit the nail on the head when he spoke of the psychological brick wall people hit when they hear the word "port-a-potties," and the lengths to which Ilwaco business owners have gone to keep themselves as far removed from these unmentionables as possible have been beyond despicable. I am aghast at the colossal hostility of the detractors quoted in the June 6 article by Amanda Frink and would like to call out some of the more egregious perpetrators of this witless enmity:
Dale Beasley fueled needless anxiety over "toxic spills" and even deigned to put the safety of the Columbia River estuary in question, as if Evergreen released its sewage directly into the water itself! Kudos to you, Mr. Beasley, for your impeccable example of misdirection for the sake of turning a benign situation into bombastic muckraking. The history teachers at IHS should look into incorporating your work with their World War II lesson plans.
Karla Nelson of Time Enough Books called the proposed business a "giant step backwards," which begs the question: a giant step backwards from what? From, as Dale Beasley put it, an area of "high crime ... and vandalism"? She then stated that "Ilwaco deserves better." Apparently Ilwaco does deserve Time Enough Books.
New resident Laura Roberts felt that Evergreen's 18-wheelers would create "a lot of traffic for a little town to bear," which is an interesting perspective since Evergreen owns precisely one 18-wheeler. She speaks as though the streets of Ilwaco will be occupied by nothing other than Evergreen Septic trucks, which would be the case if all their port-a-potties were located within a nine-block radius (note to Ms. Roberts: they aren't) and they owned about 200 vehicles (they don't). She then has the audacity to ask, "How can you guarantee your drivers won't hit a small child?" Well, Ms. Roberts, with all due respect, how you can guarantee you won't hit a small child? Are you truly so arrogant as to say your driving skills outstrip those who have worked hard to possess a Class A license? Do you honestly believe Evergreen Septic would employ drivers who are not both licensed and fully qualified to be operating such vehicles? Do you think Mr. Noyes hires just anyone off the street, sticks him or her in the driver's seat, and waves them off the lot with a cheerful "Good luck"? What planet are you from? Evergreen Septic's drivers don't deserve your insulting insinuations, and have every right to an apology from you.
With just a little research, or even a phone call, these fears - and many others - could have been allayed. Instead, obstinacy has once again won the day and punished those undeserving of such reproach.
It is quite clear to me that those who voted against the construction of the new site have not had the pleasure of meeting either Mr. or Mrs. Noyes, as doing so would have alleviated their fears instantaneously. These are some of the kindest, most open people ever to grace the southwest Washington coast, and instead of discussing your reservations about the new site with them and learning as much as there was to know before you opened your mouths, you spewed propaganda of the foulest sort to brew apprehension and doubt with the efficiency of a politician.
So to those who I quoted above (and anyone else of like mind that I don't know about - you know who you are), I say congratulations. You have successfully managed to keep a respectable, honest businessman and his wife out of your precious little "tourist" town. Having read what you have to say about it, I'm actually pleased Evergreen Septic will have to look elsewhere for a new site.
You don't deserve them.
Santa Monica, Calif.