Candle's future uncertain
Correction, July 9: An earlier version of this article misstated the sale status of the property where the Peace Candle is located. The property where the Peace Candle is sited has not yet been sold. While Scappoose city staff told the Spotlight that the property had sold, the current owners, who have owned and maintained the property for decades, say they have not yet reached a sale. The owners are in talks with a potential buyer, however.
Scappoose city staff are working to preserve the historic Peace Candle of the World, a 50-foot-tall silo visible to drivers on Highway 30 entering Scappoose from the east. The property on which the candle has been located for almost half a century is up for sale. An interested party, who is currently in talks with the owners and the city, hopes to build apartments on the 1.9 acre lot.
The city is negotiating with the developer and aims to preserve the Peace Candle.
"It's one of the council's goals to protect that," Scappoose City Manager Michael Sykes said.
In early May, plans for the property showed "the preservation of the candle on site, as well as preservation of the red barn" along with the construction of more than 50 apartments, according to a Scappoose department report.
"The plans for the property are changing slightly, and there has not been a formal land use application submittal yet, so I can't say yet what the final plan is," Scappoose City Planner Laurie Oliver explained this week.
While the apartments are viewed by some as a welcome addition to a county with a housing shortage, city councilors and community members are eager to protect the future of the Peace Candle.
"We're working to make sure that the candle is preserved and stays where it is. Or, worst case scenario, if we have to find a new location for it, make sure that we preserve the candle," Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge said at a June 17 city council meeting.
At that meeting, Scappoose resident Patty Conroy urged the council to prioritize the Peace Candle. "I want to bring up a couple words we don't hear very often, that's 'world peace,'" Conroy said. "Not only do we not hear those words very often, our candle, which represents world peace, is looking kind of tired and needs some maintenance."
The candle property is not owned by the city. The family who owns the property has maintained the candle, but is looking to sell.
Sykes agreed that the roadside attraction could use some polishing and said the city will likely seek grant funding for future repairs and maintenance.
The candle has particular significance to community members who have lived in Scappoose since the candle was still lit with a gas flame. The candle was constructed in 1971, when the owner of a candle factory decided to coat a silo in more than 40,000 pounds of candle wax and top it with a wick. A gas torch lit up the candle until the factory burned down. Then, the gas torch was replaced with an electronic flame and the wax was replaced with a cement, sand and water mixture.