The Daily Astorian announced the winner of the Joal Morris cartoon caption contest yesterday. Morris’ wonderful cartoon of the Astoria city council members scratching their collective heads about the caved-in section of pavement in the downtown plaza makes me think the Daily A should have a regular in-house cartoon series in addition to the syndicated ones they buy and print.
The cartoon was featured in the Friday Exchange letters section of the paper, but the real winner in that section was a letter by Art Hyland about an editorial in the Dec. 23 edition saying that a fireboat would have made a difference in the recent waterfront fire in Astoria. Hyland is of the opinion that instead of waiting for handouts from the federal or state government, we should plan ahead, save, and finance locally for preventing disasters like fires, cave-ins and the like.
I agree. The plaza where Safeway used to have a store has been buckling since the store was removed in the early 2000s, but instead of dealing with it, we waited until it caved in. We had a slide by the Pig N Pancake 4 years ago, and it still stands about the same as it did then. Houses are deteriorating, public and private commercial structures are empty and rotting, and infrastructure is left damaged and decaying. The list goes on.
This region prides itself – rightfully so – in its amazing volunteer efforts. When I came to Astoria, I helped build the Tapiola Park play structure area as part of a massive volunteer effort. When Fort Clatsop burned down, the community joined in and helped rebuild the fort in a matter of months (see “Waterfront Fire” post on this blog). The parents at Astor Elementary School helped to rebuild the playground there recently. This list also goes on and on.
Yes, rebuilding the downtown plaza, the hillside near the Pig, and the waterfront buildings that recently burned are huge tasks. But as Hyland asserts in his letter, with a little planning, saving and putting our muscles and money together, we could do it all – without waiting for Uncle Sam to bail us out.
As 2011 begins, and a new county and Astoria city council convenes, let’s start moving to plug the holes, push back the hills and build our town into the showcase that it deserves to be. It’s Astoria’s bicentennial, and we need to ante up. Thanks, Art, for the reminder of how we can do and have done it. Happy New Year!