I picked up my fliers from the printer on Friday and got out to deliver them Saturday.
First stop: My backyard.
I live on West Salish Pond in one of 10 cottages built by my friend, Mike McKeel, a Gresham developer (and dentist and community leader and elected official for more than 40 years). The Salish Pond Cottages are a testament to Mike’s imagination – he could look at an abandoned gravel pit and see a pond hugged by 10 cedar shingle cottages.
This was back in 2001, before tiny homes and pocket neighborhoods were cool, and back when this three-acre site was a pretty gritty industrial area. The pond is now home to trout, turtles, osprey and eagle and the occasional heron and beaver. The cottages are shaded by willow and Japanese maple, and a cornucopia of rabbits, hummingbirds, ducks, geese, and coyote share the meadows and thickets of berries. On summer nights, frogs sing.
Across the way, on East Salish Pond, are the Lodges at Lake Salish, a complex of one- and two-bedroom apartments. Dropping fliers gave me my first reason to spend time there. It’s quiet, filled with mini-vans and SUVs, patio grills and kids’ bikes.
I met a little girl who will be a mermaid for Halloween, and young woman named Jordan who loves the Lodges and the three-miles of trails that run around the ponds and through the wetland park beyond. Jordan is concerned about the car break-ins that seem to happen most nights in the visitor parking lot off Glisan Street, but the close proximity to nature – and to Portland – makes her love her home.
What makes the Salish neighborhood special is the nature it contains. The city protected the wetlands and built the trails. Mike McKeel reclaimed wetlands - then went and hired a world-class architect to design the neighborhood, building the cottages with cedar shake and planting mature trees throughout the three-acre site. Mike builds nothing but the best.
The City of Fairview had the foresight and faith to let Mike build Salish Pond Cottages – and granted him special water and sewer permits to get the work done. Which holds a lesson for city leaders in places like Fairview: If you want to build something remarkable, both city and developer often have to take risks. Protecting nature and building beautiful places takes creativity and courage. This slice of Fairview was built with both.