The city's municipal code 17.54.110 (C)(1) states marijuana retailers shall not locate within 250 feet of any public park, licensed child care and day care facilities, and public transit centers.
The area under discussion is the Mountain View Cemetery, established as a park in the city's code. According to the request for a variance, "the cemetery has no playground, no ball fields and no recreational activities of any kind." It also states that due to the lack of any recreational activities, children would not be expected to congregate there.
Our coalition does not agree. As we see it, a park without traditional playground equipment or ballparks is still a valuable recreational space for the community and our youth.
The cemetery is the site of numerous public events and community activities that encourage participation by children, youth and families. These include annual fall and spring cleanups, Memorial Day and the National Day of Remembrance.
Specifically, it is the home of the Parents of Murdered Children Memorial Wall and host of the National Day of Remembrance honoring the tragic loss of loved ones. The event includes speakers and music as well as a barbecue for families and friends of all ages.
The annual Memorial Day event also features a number of speakers, tributes and youth programs to honor and remember those we have lost. Youth in attendance have included members of Oregon City High School Junior ROTC, Boy Scout troops #220, #113 and #190, as well as the Gardiner Middle School and Grand View Baptist Church bands. Aside from the Boy Scout troops placing flags in the cemetery as part of a community service project, the event provides activities and crafts for children including fire-truck tours, coloring activities and bird-house construction. The cemetery is also the site of at least one Pokémon Go location sought by young game players.
Again, Oregon City Together greatly appreciates the Planning Commission's initial vote to deny the variance request. With ample room for business development in our community, there is no need to encroach on spaces used by our young people.
We encourage the commission to solidify its intent during its upcoming Sept. 25 meeting.
Let's continue working together to build opportunities for healthy drug-free futures for our children and youth.
Paige Hirt is a program director and board member for Oregon City Together, a coalition of local agencies, schools, individuals and organizations dedicated to reducing youth alcohol and drug use in the community.