By Don Nelson
The new parking lot planned for the northeast corner of the Mazama junction is, for most of us, still a two-dimensional conceptual thing that is a little difficult to visualize.
But it is possible to discern the general form of the Mazama Corral parking lot being developed by Methow Trails in conjunction with Okanogan County and help from the state Recreation and Conservation Office (see story, page A1). You have to use your imagination, and it helps to have a diagram of the plan, and to walk around the site with a guide.
Last week, on an extraordinary spring evening, Methow Trails Executive Director James DeSalvo traipsed around the meadow and through the horse corrals behind the Mazama Community Club, showing a group of about 40 people where the main features of the new parking lot will be. They will include a warming hut, restrooms, a picnic area and easy access to the valley’s trails system in all seasons.
Anyone who has entered the existing park-as-you-can fray that accommodates community events will recognize the plan as a huge improvement.
While we paid attention to DeSalvo’s tour, it was also instructive to look around and take note of the views both up-valley along Goat Wall, and to the south across Goat Creek Road. One of the goals of the Mazama Corral plan is to create a welcoming, expansive introduction to that part of the valley for outdoor recreationists. It’s easy to visualize getting out of your vehicle and being overwhelmed by the landscape.
As is usually the case in any valley locality, there has been a lot of interest in the Mazama neighborhood about what’s going on at the intersection, in part because the developers of several proposed commercial/residential buildings have been busy installing infrastructure and burying utility lines. The development is separate from but adjacent to the parking lot and is intended to be consistent in design.
In such a small community, even incremental changes are closely scrutinized. It’s a matter of scale — as the valley learned in the protracted battle over the proposed Early Winters ski area project. Relatively small developments can make a big difference in ambience, no small thing when boosting tourism is the goal. As well, the residents have a stake in their neighborhood’s sense of itself. In this case, the Mazama Advisory Committee has been involved for many years in planning the Mazama Corral project.
The process has been methodical and sensitive to its surroundings. The lot won’t be paved, and it will be landscaped. I think most of us trust Methow Trails to proceed with care and cooperation to ensure that the project will eventually become such a natural part of the Mazama community that we may wonder why it took so long.
There are portions of the project that haven’t been completely figured out, and Methow Trails is asking for public input. Go to www.methowtrails.com to see the schematic for the new lot, and offer your thoughts.
Then and now
Last Wednesday I took up my station in a little building at the Shafer Museum in Winthrop to explain old-time newspapering to Methow Valley Elementary School fourth-graders who were on their end-of-the-year field trip. The building houses antiquated typesetting and printing equipment from the valley’s pioneer days, including some machinery that was used into the 1970s by the Methow Valley News.
I’m not a pioneer, but I am a bridge to that time. When I started in journalism in the late 1960s, we were still using some of those devices (like typewriters, for instance).
A couple of days later, I was at the elementary school with our designer, Darla Hussey, for the annual Young Writers workshops. Some of the same fourth-graders were in one of our sessions, which we used to talk about how journalism has changed. “Remember all that stuff you saw at the Shafer?” I asked. Then I pointed to the laptops that Darla and I brought to demonstrate how instantaneous modern journalism is. “That’s what it all looks like now.”
Processes change, but the core of what we do stays the same.