THE "LETTERS TO THE EDITOR" ARE BELOW THE EDITORIAL

From The Editor

For Oaks Park: Ready, Setů.but, no 'Go'?
In the early afternoon of Saturday, October 10, curb service began of a bagged Oktoberfest dinner, with all the trimmings, for everyone who had signed up and paid online at the Oaks Park website. It was a weekend fundraiser for the nonprofit amusement park, and it was a delicious dinner for those who signed up.
In the early afternoon of Saturday, October 10, curb service began of a bagged Oktoberfest dinner, with all the trimmings, for everyone who had signed up and paid online at the Oaks Park website. It was a weekend fundraiser for the nonprofit amusement park, and it was a delicious dinner for those who signed up. (Photo by Eric Norberg)

Few Oregonians, least of all the folks at Oaks Amusement Park in Sellwood, would contest the need to continue procedures to keep COVID-19 from spreading in this, a pandemic.

But when Multnomah County saw fit to permit the Oregon Zoo to reopen with appropriate attendance restrictions – the requirement for advance appointments, and all necessary social distancing – Oaks Park believed that it would soon be afforded the same privilege.

After all, rather uniquely among institutions facing this pandemic, Oaks Park had already set up and operated an online reservation system which worked for over a year already. Like the zoo, its attractions are mainly outdoors – and similar social distancing and restricted attendance procedures, let alone continuous sanitizing of the rides in operation, were all ready to go.

But permission to open with appropriate restrictions just didn’t arrive, and finally in late September Oaks Park pulled the plug and cancelled its season, since the amusement park would normally have to go dormant in the late fall, winter, and early spring anyway.

It was the first time since it opened in 1905 (one year before THE BEE was born) that it had to cancel its season; not even two world wars, two huge Willamette River floods, and a Great Depression did that.

And it’s hard for us at THE BEE to understand why. Oaks Park seemed able meet every standard required of the zoo – but the zoo was allowed to be conditionally open, and Oaks Park was not.

Perhaps Multnomah County – the county that stopped supporting its own County Fair years ago, leaving it to a faithful corps of volunteers to keep it going (at Oaks Park!!) – doesn’t realize that The Oaks, like the zoo, is not a commercial enterprise?

The amusement park’s last private owners, the Bollinger family, were led by Robert Bollinger into rejecting any sale of the park, choosing instead to establish a 501c3 nonprofit organization called The Oaks Park Association “to preserve and perpetuate the historic amusement park as an affordable, safe, and family-friendly recreation attraction, open to the general public”. No doubt it would have been closed and subdivided for lucrative development long ago, without this strategy to preserve it in perpetuity.

Oaks Park is as nonprofit as are the zoo and OMSI (both of which are open, with appropriate restrictions). It may well be the only nonprofit amusement park in the United States, or maybe even the world. It is also an historic treasure in Inner Southeast Portland, and a recreational resource for the Portland area.

Unfortunately, this “season cancellation” may end Oaks Park’s status as the longest continuously-operating amusement park in the country – even New York’s Coney Island shut down for a while in the last century.

We hope it doesn’t, because the staff remained on duty all year at Oaks Park, and the park has been hosting third-party events that meet social distancing guidelines, as you’ve read in THE BEE – prominent among which are the “drive-in movies” hosted by the Rose City Rollers, Portland’s championship Roller Derby team, which is based at Oaks Park’s “Hanger” building, near the radio tower; the Rose City Rollers’ public roller skating events inside the park; and an elaborate drive-through Hallowe’en Haunted House feature in October.

The park even managed its own drive-by Oktoberfest this year – allowing people to sign up online for their sausage dogs, sauerkraut, German potato salad, apple strudel, and even German beer, and prepay for it – to then be there for pick up at assigned socially-distanced times on Saturday, October 10th. It was a fundraiser for the park, as its extremely popular regular Oktoberfest always has been; and we at THE BEE joined the community in ordering and picking up our own delicious Oktoberfest-dinner-to-go.

You see, the park is not really shut down; it’s just not being permitted to operate any of its amusement park rides, games, and concessions. It would be really interesting to find out just why. And perhaps it might not be too late for a couple of weeks, or a month, of restricted operation before the winter closure, if somebody in the county government finally realizes that a mistake was made…

In the meantime, here’s hoping historic, nonprofit, fun Oaks Amusement Park will be able to get back to doing what it does best by the time the 2021 season rolls around. They’re already planning their in-person Oktoberfest on September 24-26 next year.


Letters to the Editor
Local bees resting in peace.
Local bees resting in peace.

Local bees dying from garden pesticide use

Editor,

Lying on the ground are a few hundred dead bees. This is what happens when people use pesticides on plants or crops. Our bees collected particles which had pesticides on them and brought them back to the hive. Now we’re in danger of losing the whole hive.

Unfortunately this was an acute poisoning. The bees died suddenly, and with severe neurological symptoms. Most likely someone in our neighborhood sprayed pesticides on flowering plants in their yard, and our foragers were exposed.

Please stop using pesticides.

Crossing our fingers that the queen and the hive will survive.

De Lai|
Sellwood

Still cheering them on

Editor,

Back at the beginning of the pandemic, Mayor Wheeler urged Portlanders to go out each evening and bang pots as a way of saying “thank you” for the work of the first responders and essential workers. It may not have caught on all over the city, but it certainly has in one Brooklyn neighborhood.

Each night since March on S.E. 9th Avenue, a cacophony of pots, pans, drums, bells of all sizes, a conch shell, and the occasional accordion say “thank you” again and again to the people who are holding us together during this time.

Craig Heverly
Brooklyn

                                     Initiative in Brooklyn

Editor,

The Brooklyn Equity and Social Justice (ESJ) Committee – a newly formed subcommittee of the Brooklyn Action Corps neighborhood association – seeks to advocate for the diverse community of Brooklyn through education, collaboration, inclusivity, and activism. The committee is dedicated to supporting anti-racist and social justice practices in our neighborhood and city. We listen to, organize around, advocate for, and make recommendations about issues at the intersections of racism and all other forms of injustice impacting our community.

Folks in Brooklyn and other neighborhoods: We invite you to get involved in this work of fostering more equitable neighborhood associations. You’re welcome to attend our meetings, which are currently biweekly and open to the public! As we recognize that neighborhood associations have historically been exclusionary at times, we encourage you to speak to your own neighborhood association about creating a subcommittee to address these inequities. Our hope is to collaborate with other neighborhood associations to ensure change within our organizations and from our city government that intentionally emphasizes the needs of our BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, disabled, and renting neighbors. To join meetings, volunteer, or connect with us, please e-mail – socialjustice@brooklyn-neighborhood.org, or follow/message us on Instagram, @brooklynneighborhoodpdx.

Krystal Toderick
via e-mail

Gun violence reaction

Editor,

Please stop recommending the return of the Gun Violence Reduction Task Force to Portland. I don’t think any reasonable Portlander would disagree that gun violence is on the rise (likely due to rising unemployment and poverty resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic), however, advocating for the return of a task force disbanded due to racism is not appropriate. You are essentially saying “a little racism is fine, as long as I feel safe.” Be bold; suggest a new solution that doesn’t involve the return of a group disbanded due to racism.

Julia Troutt
Creston Kenilworth

EDITOR’S NOTE: By coincidence, this letter arrived in our e-mail at the same time as this story: “Three people, including a 6-year-old girl, were nearly struck by bullets as a suspect fired into their car. On Sunday, October 18, 2020, at 12:14a.m., East Precinct officers responded to a report of a shooting near Southeast 162nd Avenue and Southeast Haig Street. They found a victim vehicle with damage consistent with gunfire. The driver reported that he was driving on Southeast 162nd Avenue with his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s young daughter when someone began shooting at their car.” The fact is, gun violence exploded on virtually the very day that the City Council disbanded the GVRT – and it hasn’t slowed yet. Gun outlaws saw this as formal notice that their activities would no longer be restricted! As we have been reporting, the many diverse racial minorities in outer Southeast Portland have been prominent among those calling on the city to reinstate the GVRT – for their own safety.

Response to previous letter

Editor,

I am writing in response to Mr. DuBois’ letter to the editor [October BEE] concerning the “historic designation” with regard to Eastmoreland. He stated, “The homes are not rare, just big and owned by wealthy people.” Not all who live in Eastmoreland are “wealthy”, and I find the idea that we are, very aggravating. My neighbors are of various ages and incomes, some having lived here for years, as I have. For many, our homes are paid for and our neighbors are our support systems.

I’m not sure why Mr. DuBois, and others, are so angry at Eastmoreland residents, when so many of them volunteer all over Portland, and have for years, thus contributing to the good of all. He can believe what he wants about historic districts, but it’s time to stop judging people by the optics of their lives. We are all unique, and have a right to our own opinions and lifestyles, as does Mr. DuBois – but without being “labeled”, which stops discussions and compromise on all sides.

R. Hyde
Eastmoreland




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