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MTB advocates see reasons to support Metro natural areas levy

Posted by on May 7th, 2013 at 12:39 pm

PUMP's Forest Park mountain bike tour
Metro levy would bring more
single track to Portland.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Off-road bicycling advocates in the Portland area have two major reasons to throw their weight behind Metro’s parks and natural areas levy: Agency Creek and McCarthy Creek. Both parcels are called out by name in the text of Measure 26-152 as having potential for single track mountain biking.

The levy, up for a vote on May 21st, seeks to raise $50 million over five years to help Metro maintain and improve thousands of acres in natural areas and parks they’ve purchased over the years.

The Northwest Trail Alliance, a Portland-based non-profit that maintains, builds and advocates for mountain bike trails, is urging their members to support the levy. They see the Agency Creek and McCarthy Creek parcels as places where a mountain bike trail system could be built. And because they are outside of the northern border of Forest Park, bike access could be developed without any of the political baggage or controversy that has surrounded attempts at creating single track opportunities in Forest Park (which is owned and managed by the City of Portland).

The parcels are a few hundred acres of land that are currently a mix of forests and tree farms situated north of McNamee Road and bordered by Skyline Blvd. They’re also just nine miles from northwest Portland, a distance that would make them easily by bike for city residents.

Measure 26-152 doesn’t automatically open up these parcels for mountain biking. Rather, if passed, it would allow Metro to fund studies to further consider their development as biking areas. Here’s the official language in the Metro resolution:

“Various parcels near to but outside of Forest Park are currently or could be used by walkers or cyclists to access nature close to Portland. Access to the site is challenging and there may be opportunities to enhance use. Over the past decade the demand for single track mountain biking trails has increased. This project would explore the potential to provide quality cycling and hiking experiences for formal single track cycling and walking trails, and as appropriate, construct the facilities.”

Tom Archer, the former advocacy director for the Northwest Trail Alliance who represented the group during the debate over mountain biking in Forest Park, is familiar with the areas in the Metro levy. He said in an interview last week that, “It’s got some real potential.”

NW Trail Alliance President Jon Pheanis agrees. “From our standpoint, these two parcels do have a lot of potential for mountain biking.” Pheanis is excited about the possibilities, but he’s “tempering optimism” because he knows even if the levy passes, there would be a public and planning process to wade through. “Everyone in town is frustrated with not having any local single track access,” says Pheanis, “And this would be a good site and would take some pressure off of Forest Park.”

If the levy passes, Metro would likely partner with the NW Trail Alliance to develop the parcels in much the same way Oregon State Parks, Portland Parks & Recreation and other agencies have worked with the group on successful projects like Stub Stewart State Park, the Ventura Park Pump Track, and others throughout the region.

In addition to moving forward on new mountain bike trails, the Metro levy would also fund improvements and enhancements on major bike paths like the Trolley Trail, the Springwater Corridor, the Fanno Creek Trail, and so on. Groups like the NW Trail Alliance and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance are also supportive of this measure because it includes an extension of the “Nature in Neighborhoods” grant program. That program would provide $750,000 per year (for five years) to non-profits and other organizations to “implement the regional trails plan.”

Learn more about the levy in your voter’s pamphlet or via Metro’s website. And be sure to vote by May 21st.

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  • DK May 7, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    I’d be more confident if this Levy were proposed by anyone other than Metro! They have a history of bait and switch tactics that discourages me from supporting their efforts. Even now, the language is such that they can peak our interest one day and leave us lying by the roadside the next.

    Why in the world, if the land is already owned, would it take $50mil to cut bicycle paths? There is a ready and willing volunteer workforce just waiting for the word “go” so they can jump into action.

    This whole thing just smells “off” to me.

    Rock on NWTA…but look for new partners to help pursue our agenda.

    My $.02

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  • ME 2 May 7, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Normally this would be a no brainer initiative for my wife and I to support. She is an avid hiker and I’m an avid MTBer. But as homeowners, we’ve reached a breaking point when it comes to supporting any new initiative that means increasing our property taxes. I know it was a voter passed initiative that led to the current inequity in to how property taxes are calculated, but until that inequity is addressed, my household will be voting no to any property tax levy going forward.

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    • dachines May 7, 2013 at 3:34 pm

      Really ME 2?

      On an annual basis this levy might cost you $30 a year if you have a home assessed at $300,000. You can’t afford $30, a year?! I think that is pretty short sighted thinking on your part. I can think of numerous things that you, or anyone, could do to save themselves well more than $30 a year…let alone in a week!

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      • ME 2 May 7, 2013 at 3:56 pm

        Yes really, especially when I’ve seen my property taxes go up by 17% in the past year and have neighbors with bigger houses who pay substantially less by virtue of them having bought their house years before me. The system is broken in need of reform. Once again this is an issue I would support, but feel like I can’t until the bigger structural issues with how we tax households here is dealt with.

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        • A.K. May 7, 2013 at 5:49 pm

          I agree with you… getting ready to buy a house soon, and it’s not just the $30/year… it’s everything together that really starts to add up. Death by 1,000 cuts. Gotta make hard choices about what to support sometimes, and not everything can make the cut.

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        • dachines May 7, 2013 at 7:13 pm

          For starters you can petition to have your property taxes reduced on the basis of the information you stated. I’ve done it myself, it works.

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          • ME 2 May 8, 2013 at 11:47 am

            That’s a good suggestion and one we looked into, but decided not to pursue based on the risk that they could actually raise your taxes if they decide your house is under-assessed.

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      • ME 2 May 7, 2013 at 3:58 pm

        Since you also seem to know me so well, why don’t you tell me what you think you can do that would save me $30 in a year.

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        • jered May 7, 2013 at 5:07 pm

          Don’t all Mountain Bikers have a “Ramen Fund”. $30 in the Ramen fund is easy. less than half the price of a mid range rear derailleur. (for clarity my tone is funny and slightly sarcastic)

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  • wsbob May 7, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    “…And because they are outside of the northern border of Forest Park, bike access could be developed without any of the political baggage or controversy that has surrounded attempts at creating single track opportunities in Forest Park (which is owned and managed by the City of Portland). …” maus/bikeportland

    Sounds good. Designating the land from the outset for the purpose of mountain biking, should help to avoid some of the obstacles associated with attempting to use land designated as nature parks, for mountain biking. And thanks Maus…for not referring here, to efforts to use Forest Park for mountain biking, as ‘improving bicycling’, in the park.

    Incidentally, last week the Oregonian and its special PolitiFact team in their own piece, gave Metro some flack over the request made in measure 26-152 for money for restoration of natural lands Metro has been requiring, saying the agency flip-flopped on whether money for restoration exists within its existing budget. Maybe…but figuring out exactly what happened is challenging. I’m inclined not to agree with PolitiFact’s conclusion, but do think something else not good within Metro has happened to cause these types of questions to be asked about Metro’s request.

    Following is a link to the O story. Within it are links to the PolitiFact piece, and within that…to the earlier measure and relevant statements made within it that may be contrary to some of those made in the current measure: http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/05/did_metro_flip-flop_on_2006_mo.html . If you’ve got the time, read it all.

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    • Alex May 8, 2013 at 10:12 am

      And thanks Maus…for not referring here, to efforts to use Forest Park for mountain biking, as ‘improving bicycling’, in the park. — wsbob

      You do know that this _is_ a bike blog right?

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      • wsbob May 8, 2013 at 6:25 pm

        You can ask bikeportland’s editor-publisher for clarification, but I believe bikeportland seeks to be a bike and active transportation related news and discussion weblog.

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        • Alex May 9, 2013 at 11:28 am

          He obviously posts on much more than just those topics. In fact, you could refer to the topic of this very blog post to see the breadth of the blog going beyond what you are describing.

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        • Alex May 9, 2013 at 11:36 am

          Also, since you are too lazy to click the “About” link at the top.

          “BikePortland.org is an independent, daily news source that covers all aspects of bicycling with a strong focus on the Portland scene.”

          You just keep making things up to fit your view and don’t base them off of any sort of reality. I would also like you to provide a citation that Forest Park was meant for “meditation and quiet solitude” or whatever taglines you made up to describe it. I have tried to find it on my own and can’t find any of the language you use.

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          • wsbob May 9, 2013 at 7:41 pm

            Do a web search ‘Forest Park’; wikipedia has a page on it. Make a visit to the Oregon Historical Society in Downtown Portland; ask for info about the history of Forest Park, how it came to be, and for what reason.

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            • Alex May 9, 2013 at 8:03 pm

              I have done all of those things and none of them support what you are saying. That is exactly why I am asking for citations.

              This link, for example, says that the city club couldn’t find a better use for the land than a park because they had already tried drilling for oil on it, it wasn’t old growth, the land couldn’t support housing developments, etc. http://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/entry/view/forest_park/

              It says absolutely nothing about people wanting a serene place to spend their time. It does, however, talk about creating a piece of land for people to “drive, ride or hike” on, dating back to 1812. I want to see _your_ citations. Where the hell are you getting your information from? I can’t find it anywhere and based on all the falsehoods you go about spreading, I will not simply be taking your word on it.

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              • wsbob May 10, 2013 at 12:36 am

                “…Where the hell are you getting your information from? …” Alex

                As a long term Oregonian, from numerous sources, stories, and other Oregon residents over the years. You don’t have to take my word for it. From the page you provided the link to:

                “…Olmsted, stepson of the famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, strongly recommended that the “romantic wooded hillsides” be preserved as parkland, …” http://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/entry/view/forest_park/

                From the wikipedia article: “…As early as the 1860s, civic leaders sought to create a natural preserve in the woods near Portland. …’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_Park_%28Portland%29

                As far as I’m concerned, you’ve crossed the line in terms of civil discussion.

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                • Alex May 10, 2013 at 8:59 am

                  Your citations do not match your rhetoric.

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  • Aaron May 7, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    When the metro rep spoke at the NWTA meeting a couple weeks ago, I did not get the feeling that new singletrack was going to happen anytime soon. As a mtbr (non NWTA member) and a homeowner, I will be voting no on this levy. I don’t understand why NWTA is supporting this based on what I heard at the meeting.

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  • longgone May 8, 2013 at 7:46 am

    @ Aaron … More than likely they are supporting it because there is vitually nowhere to ride off road in and around P-town. Plain and simple.

    I agree that Metro and NWTA would be strange bedfellows perhaps, but it is time to move on this stuff.
    Portlands resistance to off road cycling in it’s ” nature parks” is childish,selfish, illogical and misdirected. Plain and simple.

    Just because these plots are considered is NO REASON to lay off preasure to gain accesss in Forest Park.

    If these parcels do become feasable, they will only alleviate use on trails closer in, because many off road cyclists wishing to ride further away from NIMBY “nature lovers” and dog walkers, will do so.

    I will say , that my friends who are employed at Metro often speak of it’s bureacratic contradictions and lack of movement.

    Until then, “WE WILL FIGHT FOR TRAIL USE IN THE GLORIOUS REGION OF THE FIR TREES,… FOREST PARK,.. “NATURE RESERVE” !!!”

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  • Santosa May 8, 2013 at 9:22 am

    As much as I abhor taxes, I would much rather pay for this new park/trail levy (something I would actually use) than the current $35 dollar Art Tax that somehow passed. But like DK stated, something definitely seems a bit ‘off” to the tune of $50 mill! No wonder we are in such a financial crisis. Sheesh- bring on the volunteers!

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  • GlowBoy May 8, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    There’s reason for skepticism about Metro, but realistically they’re our best shot at getting a real MTB trail system in the metro area.

    I’ll be voting for the levy (and emphatically did NOT vote for the poorly conceived/designed/implemented arts tax). Even though my property taxes are pretty substantial, and even though Measure 5/50 “compression” causes measures like this to cut into funding for other governmental purposes.

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  • Frank Selker May 8, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Will they come through? I’ve seen inaction when opponents make loud incoherent noises and convince others who know nothing about it (e.g., Sh*ty Club) to parrot them.

    Hard for me to be optimistic – but glad NWTA is. We need trail riding in Forest Park. Until then, it’s a leap of faith that they will have the integrity to respect facts over noise and get this done.

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  • Frank Selker May 8, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    By “they” I mean Metro or city government.

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  • Brian May 8, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    I have missed all the trails I used to ride in Florida. Hopefully, Portland will catch up with the sunshine state as far as mt. biking goes. hiking trail interests have been well served in Portland. The only conversation left to be had is to build a local mt. bike trail system.

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    • wsbob May 8, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      “…hiking trail interests…” Brian

      That particular perception you have, and possibly other mountain bike advocates have as well, of the reason residents of Portland, cities in Washington County and the tri-county area for that matter, have put the energy and money they have into acquiring natural areas for public enrichment and enjoyment, probably in no small part, explains why efforts to create mountain biking opportunities close-in to urban areas, have had so little traction.

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      • Alex May 9, 2013 at 11:54 am

        I don’t think you understand politics. It has nothing, necessarily, to do with the amount of energy “hikers” have put into it compared to mountain bikers. It has to do with who is doing what. So far, there have been some rich, influential and very vocal people blocking things for non-sensical reasons. It has little to do with the reasons you cite. Unless you provide some concrete evidence, this is just another attempt by you to create a made-up history that fits your view of the world.

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        • wsbob May 9, 2013 at 7:33 pm

          “…So far, there have been some rich, influential and very vocal people blocking things for non-sensical reasons. …” Alex

          Think what you want. Relatively few Oregonians are asking that mountain bike opportunities be created close to the within or directly adjacent to Oregon’s big cities.

          Oregonians, Portland residents, Beaverton residents, Hillsboro residents, and so on, appear to be quite interested in spending their energy and money acquiring land to create nature parks…but not for creating mountain bike opportunities within or close to their cities.

          On the current ballot, of the voters, there is no request made in any of the measures in any way shape or form, for money to create mountain bike opportunity close to the city.

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          • Alex May 9, 2013 at 8:08 pm

            You are missing the point. Relatively few Oregonians care about it and the surveys that have been done have shown support for better access for mountain biking.

            Oregonians, Portland residents, Beaverton residents, Hillsboro residents, and so on, appear to be quite interested in spending their energy and money acquiring land to create nature parks…but not for creating mountain bike opportunities within or close to their cities. –wsbob

            False. Go look at the public surveys. It is well over 50% that support more access.

            On the current ballot, of the voters, there is no request made in any of the measures in any way shape or form, for money to create mountain bike opportunity close to the city. — wsbob

            Is there any naming hiking specifically? I don’t remember seeing any. I don’t think specific sports are usually named – and yes, I would consider hiking a support. Don’t confuse not naming specific ways to access land with not supporting those ways of accessing the land. I think you come to very illogical conclusions based on your posting history.

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            • wsbob May 9, 2013 at 11:40 pm

              I’d say you didn’t see any specific reference to hiking, or walking in the current ballot measure, because that means of human ambulation on natural lands and in nature parks is a given.

              On the other hand, mountain biking, a form of vehicular travel, isn’t. Go to work to put it on a statewide or citywide ballot, if you really believe voters want to use the natural lands they’re acquiring or have already acquired, for mountain biking, and would pass a measure obliging their government to make them available as such. You seem confident those surveys you refer to mean voters would pass such a measure. Go for it.

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              • Alex May 10, 2013 at 9:02 am

                That is a weak argument at best and why should hiking be just a given? The damage done by hikers to both the flora and fauna is greater than by mountain bikers.

                I have referred you to the surveys in the past. Your memory is short. I am not going to go back in our discussions because of your lack of long-term memory (or short-term it seems, too).

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                • wsbob May 10, 2013 at 9:41 am

                  Not ‘hiking’: Walking, of which hiking is just another name for. Walking is how people are naturally able to get around without the use of a vehicle. That’s why walking, or hiking is a given and vehicular travel by bike, isn’t.

                  I think I remember your having referred in past, to some survey or another. If you think they’ll help whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish, by all means use them.

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                • Alex May 10, 2013 at 10:02 am

                  Not ‘hiking’: Walking, of which hiking is just another name for. Walking is how people are naturally able to get around without the use of a vehicle. That’s why walking, or hiking is a given and vehicular travel by bike, isn’t.
                  – wsbob

                  My point was that walking does more damage than mountain biking to the environment. We should be using the methods that have been proven to do less damage – that should be a given.

                  I think I remember your having referred in past, to some survey or another. If you think they’ll help whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish, by all means use them. — wsbob

                  What I am accomplishing is using facts to demonstrate how you create a worldview that is incongruent with what has actually happened. You are the one that making claims that the public doesn’t want mtbing in the park, I am showing you (multiple times) that, in fact, the interested parties actually show support for adding more access. Just because it isn’t specifically named in a bill doesn’t mean people don’t want it, it just demonstrates my point that the general public doesn’t really care about mountain biking access. It isn’t that they are for or against it, as you have maintained. The people actually using the park and living in the area want it and they are the ones that should be making that decision.

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                • wsbob May 10, 2013 at 5:35 pm

                  Alex May 10, 2013 at 10:02 am

                  Again…think what you want. If you believe you have the answer, or answers, that will persuade the city, mayor, the parks director, Portland residents, or whoever, to allow Forest Park to be used for mountain biking…go with that. Good luck. Judging from past, futile efforts to gain official authorization to use this singularly unique, expansive urban nature park for mountain biking…mountain bike enthusiasts are going to need plenty of luck.

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              • Alex May 12, 2013 at 7:07 am

                Again…think what you want. If you believe you have the answer, or answers, that will persuade the city, mayor, the parks director, Portland residents, or whoever, to allow Forest Park to be used for mountain biking…go with that. Good luck. – wsbob

                I am just going to leave this here: http://bikeportland.org/2012/10/17/commissioner-fish-announces-new-forest-park-singletrack-in-the-next-9-months-78990

                There is a reason Marcy Houle is actin a fool sending in pics of “trail damage” to the Portland city leaders – she knows it is just a matter of time before more access becomes available.

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          • davemess May 11, 2013 at 3:49 pm

            Bob, relatively few Oregonians are asking for mountain biking to be banned from parks. You’re crediting a silent majority with being against mountain biking, when you have absolutely no idea what the majority of residents feels about the subject.

            Why do you keep suggesting this needs to go on the ballot. We have way to many citizen (and corporation)-led ballot initiatives. We live in a representative democracy. We elect people specifically to make these kinds of decisions. Could you imagine if every parks issue was put up for public ballot! Almost nothing would ever get done.

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            • Alex May 12, 2013 at 7:09 am

              He just spreads FUD and easily “forgets” relevant information. I truly wonder if he is a PR person for some organized group with how active he is on this topic. It sure seems like he hasn’t been involved in the actual process, though.

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              • longgone May 13, 2013 at 7:30 am

                @ Alex,… I would like to thank you for two things this morning…

                1. I was unaware of the acronym, FUD. I intent to use that in the future. :)

                2. ” wsbob’s” attempts to call your counter points ” beyond the realm of civility” are absurd. As one who at times, can be a bit of a loose cannon on this comment board, I can personally feel that you diligent pressure is quite the opposite.
                You are the only person to actually post links and info to support your views. By doing so, he was left with little to counter that helps his cause.

                In the past few days Marci Houle had another op-ed in the O. I hope JM. will feature this in another post.

                In the comment section of the Houle piece, there are voices similar to that of “wsbob”, that correlate the small Portland area off road cycling community with the politic aesthetic of the tea party.

                Now while we are a small segment of the population, (and a small portion of us) may in fact align ourselves with the “tea party” ( fine by me), this is a rediculous comparison meant only to spread FUD. Wow, That was awesome, I just used my new found acronym!

                Please continue your efforts. I believe we at the point where the NWTA (if they already have not) or BP.org need to find a truly established Nation level cycling active biologist/park ranger/bueracrat to offer an opinion on Forest Park.

                I am aware of PUMP, and NWTA efforts on this for over ten years, and I realize that they have awesome people, but maybe like the “tea party” we do need a bigger “gun” so to speak.

                And as my last thought…… One positive loophole in the argument those opposed to trails seem to make is, that we offroad cyclists are “small in number”.
                If that is the case, than it is a no brainer that our impact would be small as well.
                Like a true hard line right winger, “wsbob” vasilates on this point to bolster his argument at his whim. Sad.

                peace out, yo.

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                • longgone May 13, 2013 at 7:35 am

                  ..oops , crap!.. Vacillate. I always spll that one wrong.

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                • Alex May 13, 2013 at 4:19 pm

                  I hadn’t seen that Houle piece- thanks for mentioning it. She just gets crazier by the day. She is trying any desperate tactic to keep mountain bikers out of the park and is going so far as to say “let’s change the name”. She knows things are changing and is trying to work this from every political angle. It is sad that she has to stoop to such low levels because she sees the inevitably of change in Forest Park.

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