After yesterday’s post about Curry County’s efforts to destroy a stretch of coast between Floras Lake and Blacklock Point in southern Oregon, I was curious to hear how a public meeting on the issue went last night.
Ann Vileisis, president of the Kalmiopsis Audubon Society, and her husband, Tim Palmer, sent out a nice recap of the meeting this morning and said it’d be fine for me to share it with anyone and everyone who’s interested in saving this pristine stretch of the Oregon Coast.
It sounds as if the opposition turned out en masse, which is great. It also sounds, however, as if the county is going to press ahead despite this. They plan to make an official proposal to the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission at the OSPRC’s next meeting, which is scheduled for Wednesday, November 16, in Hood River. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, here’s Ann’s recap of the meeting last night:
I know that everyone who couldn’t make to last night’s big meeting in Gold Beach is curious about what happened. In short we did great! We counted forty-six people who spoke against the state park swap/golf resort proposal, two who spoke for it, and three who were neutral.
When we arrived, we saw that the youth-golf BBQ hadn’t amounted to much, and though we’d expected supporters to show up this time, they didn’t.
Rather than the question-card format that the county commissioners’ office had told us would be used, they set out a sign-up list for people who wanted to speak.
Strangely, after Commissioner Rhodes welcomed everyone, he started calling on people to make comments straight away.
After two people made comments opposing the proposal, Dave Lacey piped up and said: “Hey, aren’t you going to show us your proposal first so that we can make comments after we see it?”
Everyone applauded, and so Commissioner Rhodes shifted gears and presented his proposal with basically the same power-point that he’s already shown at the three town hall meetings. There was no new information. The names of the developers were not divulged. He emphasized how gorse would take over the land under state park management. He said that the Curry Commissioners wanted to make their official proposal to the State Parks commission at their meeting in Hood River on November 16.
After his presentation, Rhodes began to call citizens’ names again, and, one by one, people took turns making statements.
They were fantastic. From Langlois, Port Orford, Gold Beach, and Brookings, citizens made comments that were articulate, thoughtful and respectful –and covered all manner of arguments and concerns.
People talked about the special values of Floras Lake and Blacklock; about what a waste of time this whole process was; about the need to come up with a viable solution to the county’s fiscal crisis rather than continuing to pursue this pie in the sky proposal; about how the proposal would not meet the criteria for a state parks land exchange; about the secrecy of the proposal; about the need to raise taxes to a fair level; about how disappointed we were to STILL not know any more specifically about the proposal or the prospective developers; about how gorse would be exacerbated by development; about how public state parks lands should not be traded away for private development, and much, much more.
There were many high points as speakers emphasized different reasons that they oppose the proposal– with humor, heartwarming personal stories, or hard-hitting statements that seemed to just NAIL the key points. Many different perspectives were voiced, and I think it was utterly impressive.
Only one person clearly supported the proposal, contending that this was an important economic opportunity for the county, that Herb Kohler builds top-notch golf courses, and that environmental regulations had shut off access to Curry County’s natural resources. A man representing Curry Homebuilders Association praised the commissioners for trying to do something. One person from Bandon Dunes said that golf courses could be environmentally friendly; and another man introduced himself as an engineer and explained that he’d be doing a “scientific poll” to determine what people in Curry County actually think. That was a little odd–since his motive, authority, funding support, or background were not revealed.
All in all, it was an extraordinary meeting. Once again citizens from all over the county expressed resounding opposition to the idea of trading away a state park to create a private golf resort. Many people agreed that this evening was a milestone for Curry County in terms of having so many people speak in support of conservation and state parks.
Yet at this point, it looks like our County Commissioners will continue to press forward. Their motives and expectations remain a mystery to us. So please stay tuned, and make sure to write letters to the state parks commission, and encourage your friends to do so, if you’ve not already done so.
Thanks to everyone for your help and support. It takes all of our voices and ideas to defend the extraordinary values of this magnificent place we call home.
Ann and Tim