Aartsen: As Hillsboro grows, its leaders shrink from their duties
"Hillsboro a 'jerkwater town'? All in good fun, says mayor." This article struck a chord with me. Not because of the remarks by Travis Knight made in Entertainment Weekly after winning the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film for its production of "Missing Link" — the remarks were clearly meant to be self deprecating, comparing Hillsboro to the center of entertainment Hollywood/Los Angeles. In fact, kudos to Laika. We are proud you operate your business out of Hillsboro.
Refer to a News-Times story published online Jan. 21, 2020, about Mayor Steve Callaway's response to comments by Laika's Travis Knight.
Why Mayor Steve Callaway needed to explain this to the citizens of Hillsboro is beyond me? Maybe the City Father wanted to take part of the credit and he wants to run out to Laika to decorate Travis Knight with a citizens achievement award?
Of much greater concern to me is the relentless pursuit of the growth of Hillsboro. My family arrived in Hillsboro in 1984. At the time the city had 25,000 inhabitants. Now it has over 100,000.
Don't get me wrong. We welcome the economic growth, the opportunities and the good paying jobs this growth has brought to our city. But to me it has become apparent that this growth is not weighed against the livability, vitality and character of Hillsboro. In fact, Orenco has become a city within the city of Hillsboro. Why would anybody working for Intel Corp., and living in Orenco, ever venture into "Old Town" Hillsboro?
The City Council has holed itself up in its ivory tower on the corner of Main Street and First Avenue. It holds court every second Tuesday of the month.
Every successive mayor since Shirley Huffman have been successful administrators who have sought to espouse their blessings on the citizenry of Hillsboro. Involving residents, reaching out and listening to them has not been a priority. The character of neighborhoods is sacrificed at the altar of growth and opportunity.
The latest example is Jackson School Road. We are witnessing the removal of 100-year-old trees.
Mr. Mayor, these trees speak to us. They were part of our neighborhood. They still speak to us as they lay felled along Jackson School Road. They have no voices.
We, the citizens of Jackson School, raised our voices and spoke up to please save as many as you could. How much effort would it have taken to hear our pleads to balance the character and livability of our neighborhood with your relentless pursuit of growth?
We belatedly became aware that uninhibited growth will destroy our environment, and weighing our environment versus economic growth is slowly becoming a priority. We may already be at the point of no return.
Alas, too late for Jackson School Road. It will become another thoroughfare to downtown Hillsboro, which you have neglected to revitalize. Believe me, next to Brookwood Parkway and Cornelius Pass Road, we did not need another commuter road.
Hillsboro is not a jerkwater town. It is a city run by jerks.
If you sense a mix of sadness and resentment, you would be right.
William Aartsen is a resident of the Jackson School neighborhood of Hillsboro.
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