Grizzly Peak 'A' will cause strife, not spirit

Tidings Editorial published on June 8, 2007

Talk of returning a landscaped “A” to the hillside of Grizzly Peak is well-intended. So to was the Titanic. The “A” will likely suffer the same fate, sinking before ever gaining much momentum.

Ashland used to sport a prominent “A” on the hillside for all to see. Apparently, way back when, folks took the time to paint rocks, weed the area and line the rocks up in the shape of an “A.” The endeavor inspired a degree of hometown pride.

So when the Ashland High School alumni director discovered the rocks still basically in place, it made sense to see about getting them cleaned up and back on display. Unfortunately, the gesture is not so easily accepted. AHS officials are reluctant to lend support because of strident public reaction against sullying the natural landscape of Grizzly Peak. They have officially adopted a neutral position.

Other service groups that might be inclined to get involved have shown equal ambivalence.

Unfortunately, the lack of support has made those in favor of it more determined to accomplish the task. Once again, criticism is fueling division, which will only escalate the issue until it explodes.

Perhaps the time for hillside letters has not passed. Perhaps a giant “A” will give folks a renewed sense of old-fashioned, small-town pride.

And then again, perhaps not.

Most likely the letter, should it be renovated and returned to a position of prominence on our landscape, will become the target of hostility. People against the unnatural letter will see it as an indignity upon the environment and will surely come up with some type of public format to express their disapproval.

Something about Ashland provokes overreaction, like a bank seeking to show its patriotism insisting on flying a flag far larger that it does in other locations. Or like Ashland’s Naked Summer a couple years ago, which evolved from a relatively innocuous public decency ordinance.

Should the “A” suddenly emerge from the weedy hillside, it will hit many people like a visual assault. The result produced will be the exact opposite of its intention. An “A” on Grizzly Peak will cause further controversy and strife, not civic pride and enthusiasm. Grizzly Peak is one of our landmarks that deserves to be treated with more respect than that of a glorified billboard.

Hillside letters have gone the way of cassette tapes, wood-paneled station wagons and long, tightly curled, permed hair on men. Let’s leave ours in the timecapsule it belongs in, left covered by nature as a relic of the past.

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