Eagle Point-how I see the community

In spite of my best efforts, I may have become another small-town cliché. Like so many teenagers born and raised in the same small town as their parent(s), I could not wait to get out of the Rogue Valley. And, like so many young adults, I could not be more excited to return to the same hometown I so willingly fled. Looking back, what bothered me most was the apparent monotony of small-town life. Nothing ever seemed to change.
After five years in the outside world, a lack of change is the least of my concerns. During my absence, it seemed each yearly visit would reveal some alteration I took absolutely to heart. The last thing I wanted to see in my small country town was a set of twin Hummers at the grocery store. And as the farmland behind my house filled with pricier and pricier homes, the chip on my shoulder grew larger. I started to wonder if the town I knew would exist when and if I decided to return.

When and if turned into right now, and I have come home to a grand
opening celebration at the local Wal-Mart and a crowd of faces I no
longer recognize at Ray’s. But in spite of those glaring changes, I am
finding my small town within this burgeoning city. The familiar faces
are starting to resurface, and I am coming to understand the
painstaking efforts the city council and other community groups have
undertaken to both accept and control the growth and changes facing
Eagle Point. I commend other towns in the Upper Rogue for making the
same efforts.
While I am still disappointed in the vast
difference between wages and property values in the area, I am
re-evaluating my perspective on change in the Upper Rogue. Thankfully,
Eagle Point has reached the urban growth boundary and the remaining
farmland should stay undeveloped for the next few years. This means
that any continued growth will require land within the boundary to be
settled in a denser manner, creating smaller lots and more multi-family
dwellings. For a population in love with wide-open spaces, this does
not sound promising; however, cooperation and input from residents can
result in an actual city we can not only live with, but also be proud
Oregon has a reputation for cities with enviable and
bustling downtown districts. Portland remains a national model for
urban planning, and Ashland has long boasted a thriving downtown.
Medford’s rejuvenated city center also deserves praise. In the next few
years, growth in Eagle Point should lead to a town center with more
dining, shopping, and strolling prospects.
This small town
is experiencing and will continue to see change that, as a teenager, I
could have only imagined. That is not to claim all of it is or will be
positive, but it does allow residents, new and old, to influence the
shape and direction of growth. Historically, a major concern with
cities facing rapid growth is the process of gentrification. As an area
becomes more desirable to those living in a higher income bracket,
property values and prices at local businesses sky rocket until
long-time residents can no longer afford to stay. In addition to an
exodus of natives, this creates a sharp division between old-timers and
One of the reasons I was most excited to return
is the sense of community I experience here. This community rallies
around our school, those residents in need, and our local celebrations.
It is not a community defined by social divisions. Just as Eagle Point
faces the challenge of filling in the spaces with an attractive and
livable density, it faces the challenge of incorporating a startlingly
diverse population into the direction the growth takes. As we face an
election year in which an unprecedented number of presidential hopefuls
are household names, this community faces a year of decisions, made at
the local level, which will have as much impact on our day-to-day lives
as the outcome of any national election. Without question these
decisions will bring more changes: it is our individual responsibility
to get informed and speak up before the city we envision disappears
under the vision of those willing to participate in the process of
By Crystal Millien
Of the Independent

Speak Your Mind