Oregon City needs to end its Public Works folly
Kudos to the folks who pulled ivy in Waterboard Park on May 6.
A sizable area was cleared, revealing the underlying slope — a loose jumble of rocks and boulders, partially filled in with soil and debris. Geologically speaking, this is a young, active slope. Signs in the park warn that it's a geological hazard area. You can see that the slope is in motion. During this particularly wet rainy season, some trees and several boulders fell down. A seam in the ground, where a chunk of the road bed dropped off years ago, has opened up wider.
Regionally we've seen many landslides. Traffic was detoured around South End Road. The roadbed on Highway 213 near Mulino was collapsing. In Portland, West Burnside was closed for over a week due to a massive landslide. Northbound lanes on I-5 were closed in Washington as well. Here in Oregon City, four known slides damaged homes and private property. Public Works Director John Lewis told KGW, it's because of all the rain: "It's just moisture in clay soils. It gets saturated and the minute they get saturated they get heavy. And if they're on a steep slope they move."
So then why does Oregon City Public Works want to build their new headquarters at the base of Waterboard Park, right under a steep slope marked as a rock slide area? A nearby sign depicts boulders tumbling off a slope, seemingly crashing down to the proposed building site. Why would the city take such a risk?
Historically, Public Works has stored some equipment on the site, and that's all well and good. However, building a new 15,000-square-foot administrative office at the base of an obviously unstable slope is just folly. I appreciate Public Works efforts to alter their plans to accommodate the wishes of the neighborhood, but we simply can't expect nature to bend to human plans.
Janine Offutt is an Oregon City resident.