Letters to the Editor for Jan. 26, 2016

Possibilities for the Garfield Building are endless

Marianne and I moved to Camas in 2002. Having previously visited friends who lived in Camas, we were well aware of this small town jewel in the greater Portland area.

Although our two children did not have the opportunity to attend Camas schools, we have always been supporters of good public schools in the communities we lived in.

On Feb. 9 Camas residents will be asked to make an important decision to vote in favor of the capital project bond to insure quality educational facilities well into the future. The capital project bond was worked on tirelessly by a District Facilities Committee consisting of some 60 patrons, community and business leaders, students and staff. This bond contains essential and fundamental improvements to ensure the safety, education and development of our children — roof repairs, boiler and window replacements, additional student capacity and many other worthwhile projects that would benefit our students and community.

As supporters of the arts and former board members of the Camas Performing Arts Series, Marianne and I would like to focus on one portion of the bond that is very near and dear to our hearts — the renovation of the Garfield Building and the Joyce Garver Theater.

For years the historic Joyce Garver Theatre provided a venue for performances by students and performers of all ages. The place was packed with parents, grandparents, siblings and others who are proud of what their children have done and want to support and encourage our local talent.

It also provided a venue for concerts and performances of all types for our community to enjoy. Many artists performing in the Joyce Garver Theater marveled at the wonderful acoustics of the building, acoustics not achieved in many modern multipurpose venues.

Currently, this historic theater is in serious disrepair. Most current fire, safety and wheelchair-accessible laws were not in place in the 1930’s, when the theater’s first brick was laid. Nor were the classrooms surrounding the theater built to today’s school earthquake standards – fortunately the theater itself exceeds earthquake standards.

There has not been a major renovation to the theater in years. The lighting and sound systems are very antiquated by today’s performance venue standards. A portion of the bond will renovate the Garfield Building and Joyce Garver Theater to ensure that our students and our citizens will get to enjoy this community treasure for years to come.

Besides modernizing the Joyce Garver Theater as a venue for student and community performances, the Garfield Building will become a versatile, mixed- use building for the community, housing all school district pre-school programs, providing Community Education classes for ages 3 to adult, as well as programs specifically for seniors.

Due to the fast growth in our community and sheer demand, the Camas High School Theatre does not provide adequate space for all school district performances. Since the Garfield Building and theater closed in 2009, there have been countless plays, choir and band concerts from our elementary and middle school students held in lunchrooms, and gyms throughout the district. All of this is good news and bad news.

The good news is that we have a vibrant arts program in the Camas School District and the Camas community as a whole. The bad news is we are limited because we lack the facilities for these performances.

Lastly, renovating Garfield Building and Joyce Garver Theater will provide an economic benefit to the community. When the theater hosts events, local restaurants are booked and downtown shops are busy. Additional tax revenues are generated which help our local government provide much needed services. In addition, we know that it will have an even greater impact in the future with expanded educational opportunities for children and adults. The possibilities are endless. One can only dream that the Joyce Garver Theater may once again host community concerts.

Marianne and I strongly support the Camas School District bond proposal. Please join us and vote “yes” to allow all these much-needed capital projects to move forward.

Rich and Marianne Reiter, Camas

Build a third bridge

The $3.5 billion dollar Columbia River Crossing, with its $8 tolls and Portland’s light rail, has quietly been resurrected this past year.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s recent visit emphasizing “a new I-5 bridge is critical,” was the exclamation point. “We have to fix that corridor,” Inslee told the press.

The governor forgets he told Clark County citizens: “no light rail, no bridge,” in 2014. But for that demand by both Inslee and Oregon’s disgraced former Gov. John Kitzhaber, construction would be underway today.

“Fixing the corridor” should mean, first and foremost, addressing the Rose Quarter. This 2-mile, two-lane section of I-5 has the highest accident rate of any Oregon road. The $3.5 billion CRC provided a one minute improvement in southbound traffic due to Rose Quarter congestion.

Addressing the corridor would mean providing a new, alternate corridor for north-south vehicles and freight. The I-205 corridor provided significant I-5 corridor relief 35 years ago as an eastside transportation option.

Our 2008 Regional Transportation Council “Visioning Study,” provided four new bridge options crossing the Columbia – two west of I-5 and two east of I-205, for new transportation corridors. Instead they demanded “a light rail project in search of a bridge.”

A year ago, Vancouver sought $83 million to “upgrade” their modern Mill Plain/I-5 interchange. Plans produced later show this is the exact CRC design. In June, our legislature increased gas taxes, including $94 million for this piece of the CRC.

TriMet’s Neil McFarlane talked about resurrecting the CRC last September. Identity Clark County discussed “the elephant in the room,” at January’s RTC board meeting.

In 2013, 223 of 228 Clark County precincts rejected the CRC and its light rail and tolls.

Portland has a dozen bridges across the Willamette River. Why should we be limited to just two bridges across the Columbia? Build a third bridge.

John Ley, Camas