Letter At Length

'City council is a cancer'

As a former Ashland resident, 1978 to 1985, and city employee for the last two of those years, I have read with piqued interest and profound sadness over the ongoing and escalating dissension between citizens of Ashland and their government.

It is true life was much simpler then. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival ran three months. Citizens relished their small town and businesses loved and appreciated them. Medford was a plague, as everyone who lived and worked in Ashland never wanted to leave. At that time, you were able to do both. How sad that has changed.

Slowly, I watched the town I loved change. I was thrilled there were no fast food restaurants, and concerned when McDonald's came to town. We didn't need fast food, but I was pleased to see compromise on the Tudor design of the building.

The city was the most prestigious employer in town, and I was elated when hired to work in the Community Development Department, in the era of Gordon Medaris, and Brian Almquist. We dealt with council and commission members and they were respected community members who worked with city staff to develop and implement mutually agreed upon goals.

I believe the slow demise of Ashland started when the Festival expanded their season from three to nine months. All of a sudden everything in town catered to the tourists and their money. They came from all over, saw the small town charm and wanted to cash in. We let them move in and everything started to change. I distinctly remember waiting to be seated at a restaurant, when an obvious tourist walked in after me. Clearly I was there first, but "Mr. Plaid Shorts, white socks, sandals, with a camera around his neck" was seated before me. The incident saddened me, but was insightful. A local, who helped support their business for years, was cast aside because of a tourist.

Ashland started losing its charm and I headed north. I returned several times and saw startling changes. Beautiful hillsides had been plowed to make room for housing developments. Rents were sky high, wages pathetically low. The tourists and their money had taken over.

Your city council is a cancer that keeps growing. As with all cancers, you need to remove the tumors allowing a healthy environment to thrive. Recall the entire council and start over with citizens who put Ashland first, not their own personal agendas.

Trina Thorwald

La Verne, Calif.

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