Solfrid & Ray (and Oakley)
Solfrid & Ray moved to this neighborhood 20 years ago to enjoy the peace and quiet, the single-story house, and the forestlands in their backyard. Solfrid says the forestlands remind her of growing up in Norway. “There was nobody around us.” Their house is full of memories from their travels, photographs of their extended family, and their calico cat, Oakley, with striking blue eyes.
Solfrid beams about her rosemaling and her photography. They are both excellent. She’s in her 80s but you’d never know it. She is vigorous. Ray is a Navy veteran who worked as a medical technician in locations all over the world. After his long service, he went to culinary school; Solfrid says “He is an amazing cook.” He is also a proud American and loves watching Oregon football. They both have a lot to say about the potential development, and they are both worth listening to.
They are not happy about the potential for a large development. They worry about the impact of the project on the community, the forest, their home, and their lives. They worry about the folks who might be sold new houses in a new housing community that would be fated for trouble.
Solfrid focuses on the wildlife first. “These days there are a lot less animals in the area.” She’s right. The forests above the community have already been logged and the wildlife has mostly moved or died off. Clearcutting this parcel would take away perhaps the last continuous forested animal corridor down to wetlands and the Neawanna Estuary.
They have experienced the sting of inadequate building practices. In addition to their home, the four immediate neighbors have all had major foundation work to address water intrusions. That costs money. Ray wonders “if the buildings didn’t last for the houses in our neighborhood, what will happen in the canyon?” Recently, there has been some earth movement. A tree fell on their land after a big rain in the early spring, and more of their reasonably flat backyard is washing away.
Ray speaks of the Great Coastal Gale of 2007 in which 8 people lost their lives. The storm brought 20 inches of rain in just 3 days, followed by hurricane-force winds which tore through the community causing losses in the billions. He cautions “You don’t know how isolated this community is until all services are cut off. No water, power, or phone service for days. No food, gas, or access to healthcare.” He can’t imagine how any house in the canyon would survive intact as they would bear the full brunt of the runoffs and mudflows. “Those trees provide windbreak and their root structures provide protections. Those would be gone.”
They wonder if the heavy truck traffic will cause another foundation problem. Their paradise and all the memories in it are now directly in the path of proposed development just as Seaside was to the Great Gale. Oakley jumps on the table, perhaps sensing their disquiet, and begs for a scratch.
The entrance to the project, just outside the kitchen window, might carry thousands of construction vehicles, logging trucks, and heavy equipment in and out of the canyon for years to come. If the project were to move forward, their world will be lost in the constant vibrations and noise of a major construction project. Lost like tears in the Oregon rains.