Letter: Remember that St. Helens is wooing toxic waste
May I remind you readers of the information I shared some time back.
At that time, I had conversations with St. Helens City Administrator John Walsh regarding the proposal to bring Superfund site sludge from the harbors in Portland to a toxic, contaminated lagoon in St. Helens.
Superfunds sites have been declared by the Environmental Protection Agency to be the most toxic and filthy sites in the nation.
I was told St. Helens would be paid approximately $50 million for allowing this filth to be "sealed" into the poisonous lagoon located on the waterfront property.
Citizens of St. Helens were told a new water treatment plant was imminently needed because the old one was wearing out and that the money received from Portland's Superfund sludge would pay for this new treatment plant.
Truth be told, St. Helens had an agreement with Boise Inc. to share the water treatment building and operations costs. So, when Boise decided to close the doors of its pulp and paper plant and move out of town, St. Helens was stuck with a treatment plant 10 times larger than needed and could no longer afford to run it — thus the "imminent" need for a new treatment plant and the willingness to accept toxic "crap" from the Port of Portland.
In fact, I have just been told the water treatment plant is "state of the art." It's just too big.
According to Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge, St. Helens approached Scappoose proposing a deal wherein St. Helens would share their excessively large water treatment plant and excessive amounts of water with Scappoose.
Mayor Burge told me the pipelines needed for this venture would be abhorrently costly — that Scappoose was undergoing a water study at this time — and there were no ongoing negotiations.
So, here St. Helens has 22 acres of land with incredibly beautiful views of the Columbia River and its tributaries. Unfortunately, this land still contains a lagoon full of PCBs, DDT and other carcinogens. The city is nearly a year into attempting to find someone with the funds to develop this acreage and grants to fund the cleanup.
I was told just this past week by St. Helens Councilman Doug Morten and City Administrator John Walsh that the people's beach access to the water was their main concern. I was told there would be one-half mile of beach access beginning from the courthouse to the end of the property now owned by the citizens of St. Helens.
This would be the first time in my life St. Helens has ever had citizen beach access to the water. So don't hold your breath.
One more opinion, if you please.
The business section of the waterfront development property in downtown St. Helens is truly worth visiting. The merchants have
done some amazing things with the beautification of their businesses. The parking sucks — but it is a unique challenge to avoid runn-
ing into another vehicle or a pedestrian.
A metal fence continues to stretch along most of Strand Street, at a cost of approximately $3,000 every six months. This fence is unsightly, overgrown and a flat-out hazard when attempting to negotiate the Strand Street business area to reach the aforementioned 22 acres.
The trees are overrun with wisteria, blackberry bushes and dried weeds.
Removal of this fence is mandatory for survival of the trees. Moths and caterpillars are destroying the apple trees and the maple tree is full of dead branches. I don't believe there is any way to care for these trees without the fence being removed.
Several times, I and others have pointed out these hazards and have been appeased with "we're working on it." My suggestion: if the city is worried about people parking in non-designated areas, put up concrete barriers. Surely, these would cost less than $3,000 every six months for fencing.