Crescent Oregon “Little Town With A Big Heart”

Crescent Oregon “Little Town With A Big Heart”
Article © written by: Jeffrey Brent, Crescent, OR.
Photography © by: “M”, Crescent OR.

Located along the Hwy 97 corridor and nestled between the Walker and Cascade Mountain ranges, Crescent, Oregon, dubbed the “Little Town With A Big Heart” by many locals could just as aptly be referred to as one of Central Oregon’s lesser-known jewels. From the Little Deschutes River Meadow with its magnificent views of nearby and distant peaks to the array of abundant wildlife to be admired on any given day, Crescent offers some of Oregon’s most scenic rewards.

crescent-photo-by-mSadly, like too many quaint communities, Crescent has known more than its fair share of economic hardships over the years, struggling to retain existence with a relatively small population and a fluctuating number of local businesses. Currently, the town is facing one of its most endangering issues: the harsh reality of wastewater pollution. Presently, Crescent, Oregon houses no city wide wastewater facility, leaving all businesses and residents reliant on individual septic systems. Given many of these systems are aged and failing, subsequent pollution of the local ground water and Little Deschutes River with high levels of nitrates has resulted, leading the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to place the Crescent area on a moratorium prohibiting the installation of any new septic systems. Unfortunately, this means that Crescent can no longer bring in new businesses and/or residents.

Joining forces to squelch the threat of further pollution, clean up the environment, and entice future growth of local businesses, a collaborative effort between the Crescent Sanitary District, DEQ, Infrastructure Finance Committee (IFA), USDA, and RCAC is currently underway with a common goal/eventual result in mind: Establishing a Community Wastewater Facility that is at once affordable to Crescent’s residents and business owners (current and any future), allowing managed growth of the community, and, in essence, assuring the town’s continuing existence.

The newly elected Crescent Sanitary Board consisting of Cher Dolan (President), Jeff Coker (Vice-President), Jo Foust (Secretary-Treasurer), Mike Ayers, and Chuck Defoe, is dedicated to solving the town’s wastewater issues. In December 2012, the board retained grant-writer, Chuck Lawrence, to work in collaboration with the state and federal agencies to obtain funding for the project. The board is made up of local citizens who have a strong desire to serve the community in a positive way and protect the viability of the town and its citizens. Mr. Defoe and Mr. Coker, owners of local businesses in Crescent, bring personal experience and business perspective to the Board’s table. Mr. Ayers is a retired construction owner with past experience and involvement in wastewater projects. Along with Cher Dolan who brings over 30 years of experience in the loan and finance industry, Jo Foust has worked and lived in the community of Crescent for many years and offers a valuable perspective regarding the questions and concerns of her fellow local citizens. The Board’s mission: Establishing and implementing a beneficial solution to Crescent’s current wastewater issues.

This is far from being a new endeavor for the Crescent community. The Crescent Sanitary District was originally formed in 1976. In 1999 a Facility Plan was developed, but due to the overwhelming projected cost of the system it was decided to “table” the project at that time. In the years since, the problem has continued growing, with nitrate levels rising. And up until recently, the board had not adopted a budget that included final engineering and construction.

At a public meeting held on May 22, 2013, the board voted on and approved its first budget that includes engineering and construction of the project. The bulk of the cost will be paid for with grants and low interest loans. The goal is to keep the operating costs to an affordable level for the town. The board is dedicated 100% to meeting this goal, and is very excited to have moved the project this much closer to reality.

The next phase will be sending out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to local Oregon engineering firms. The job of the selected firm will be to update and develop a new Facility/Engineering Plan. However, the plan entails more than just engineering. The plan, as required by the DEQ, must also cover the cleanup of the wastewater and lower nitrate levels, address the existing needs of the population as well as any projected community growth for the next 25 years. In addition, the project must show that it will increase job growth in the community. The new waste water facility will meet the requirements of the state and county, allowing businesses to locate in Crescent and those businesses currently existing to grow. This will bring much needed employment to the local citizens.

Article © posted with permission.