|Volume 7, Issue 4||
History in the News
Schoolchildren in Cedar Mill need safe ways to walk or bike to school. Bonny Slope students and nearby residents must use bus or car transportation since no sidewalks exist on 113th from Cornell to Mc Daniel and 119th/McDaniel between Cornell and Thompson Roads. A CPO subcommittee was recently formed to explore the creation of sidewalks where now there are none.
Citizen action to create safe paths is nothing new in Cedar Mill, though. A page from Cedar Mill’s history should encourage community members in their efforts. In the late 1970s Cedar Mill citizens “made it happen,” too. They built the Cedar Mill Pathway, 2.5 miles of paved pathway along the south side of Cornell Road from Murray Road to Miller Road. Children walking to Cedar Mill Grade School, cyclists, and joggers no longer needed to share the narrow shoulders of Cornell Road with cars and trucks.
The project started in January 1977 when Gary Peterson, a Portland structural engineer, gathered a small group of fellow Cedar Mill residents. This group of neighbors, including Ray and Barbara Lokting, began a fund-raising project that culminated two and a half years later in the $40,000 Cedar Mill Pathway.
By May 1977, Washington County’s Park and Recreation Commission had recommended that the proposed Pathway receive top-priority funding. The Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District (THPRD) received $20,000 for Phase One work on the Pathway. A matching sum of individual donations and county assistance had been raised for the project.
By July 1977, work was underway on the project. But a major construction problem loomed where the Pathway crosses the creek at Cedar Mill Falls (near 119th). There was no choice but to run the Pathway along the narrow strip between the edge of Cornell Road and the existing bridge guardrail. There was no money for a footbridge.
But a personal tragedy was turned into a living community memorial. On July 21, 1979, Larry Vincent, age 15, died in a farm accident near Ione, in Eastern Oregon. His parents, Andrew Vincent and Barbara Lokting, decided to build a safe footbridge across Cedar Mill Falls in Larry’s memory, to ensure pedestrian safety and provide a safe viewing area for the scenic and historic falls. Andrew Vincent, a landscape architect, designed the bridge, collaborating with Gary Peterson on its structural aspects. Months of fundraising followed, along with the securing of county permits, design adjustments, pipe problems and the once-a-week seasonal help of the Oregon National Guard.
Finally, in August 1979, the 106-foot-long bridge with its two viewing turnouts was completed. A commemorative plaque was installed: “LARRY VINCENT MEMORIAL BRIDGE • 27 APRIL 1962- 21 JULY 1977.” Andrew Vincent said, “It is a reminder of the boy who loved to run, and ran so much on that road… providing protection to people in his community who enjoyed being outdoors the way he did.”
The Larry Vincent Memorial Bridge exists today. Parts of the original Cedar Mill Pathway still exist, too. They offer a tribute to the community activism that can make the people and environment of Cedar Mill safer.
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Portland, Oregon 97291