I. Gearhart Remembered 2001
The following items numbered 1 to 11 are direct quotes from Berg (2001) pertaining to Lesley Smith Miller’s contributions to the City of Gearhart from Gearhart Remembered – An Informal History.
Berg, William. 2001. Gearhart Remembered – An Informal History. Gearhart Homeowners Association. Gearhart, OR. 174 pp.
1. Page 69 – But with most of its able-bodied citizenry off at war or otherwise involved in war-related activity, who was “taking care of the store” in Gearhart? Half the answer is, of course, William Badger, who had been the town’s reliable and resourceful mainstay from its beginnings. His partner in keeping up the town, and the town’s spirit, during the war years was a woman who would distinguish herself, and bring benefits to Gearhart, more and more through the following decades. Her name was Lesley S. Miller. She served on the City Council throughout the war, maintaining the city’s infrastructure and laying plans for a postwar renaissance.
2. Page 69 – In 1944, Lesley Miller, as head of the “post-war planning committee”, lobbied successfully for the City’s acquisition of a ball field for Gearhart kids – the old Chautauqua park land near the entrance to town. The County deeded that large tract of land to the City on June 7, 1944. Five years later … it became the site of a new school.
3. Page 70 – On the west end of town, at the head of Pacific Way, Mrs. Miller advocated the establishment of another park. Now known as “Dune Meadows,” it was her favourite project. Her dream was the people of Gearhart would have “a place to play baseball, football, have a picnic, or just site, relax, and watch the sunset,” a place where “condominiums would never be built.” The dream was realized in 1947 when the City acquired from Clatsop County the land on which Kruse’s grand oceanfront hotel, together with it’s “natatorium), had stood until the fire of 1915. And Graham Barbey, who was chairman of the county planning commission, saw to it that the land transfer was contingent on the City’s never erecting a building on it, whether residential or commercial. This transaction (which cost the City of Gearhart all of one dollar) fulfilled Lesley Miller’s vision of a park complex stretching along the ocean front north of Pacific Way: during the previous year (1946), the City had successfully negotiated the purchase of all the land in front of the north Ocean Avenue homes.
4. Page 82 – It was first and foremost a benefit to raise money for the building the tennis courts, which no stand on city property acquired (at Lesley Miller’s urging) from the county in 1947.
5. Page 91 – William Badger’s partner in caring for the City during the war years, Lesley Miller, continued her energetic pursuit of good causes on the local, state, and national levels. Mrs. Miller found the League of Women Voters of Clatsop County. She had friends in high places, and thought nothing of lobbying a senator, a congressman, or a governor personally. Her work for UNESCO brought her to the international area, but still represented no more and no less than her overriding concern for the lives of children – the same concern that brought her into frequent interaction with Gearhart kids. In 1961, she bought and renovated an old commercial building west of the Gearhart Market – a complex that had once housed, among other businesses, “Pop’s” (Poppinos’) Sweet Shoppe and Theodore Dichter’s lumber yard, and now houses, among other businesses, Cynthia Anderson’s Antiques. Mrs. Miller established there a community cultural center which included a library, a meeting room, and an arts and crafts area. For a time, then, in the sixties, the derelict commercial building became a place of growth and education.
6. Page 92 – Lesley Miller … was kind of the matriarch of Gearhart, I would say. Every New Year’s she had a big party at her house, with Gov. Holmes, who lived just down the street from us. She had parties with champagne and big sing-alongs. New Year’s was on party I can remember going to; high school kids would go to, too. That was in the 1950s. (Jon Blissett)
7. Page 92 – Lesley Miller’s death in 1975 in many ways marked the end of an era. At her memorial service in Dune Meadows park on the ocean front – a park that she had almost single-handedly brought into being – a marble bench bearing her name was installed. Today it still looks out to the boundless sea she loved.
8. Page 95 – Condominiums were now a reality in Gearhart, and no one – especially no one on the ocean front – wanted to see any more of them. True, the City park – Lesley Miller’s accomplishment – protected the dunes in front of North Ocean Avenue from such development.
9. Page 99 (photo) – Her name was Lesley Miller, and it was her spirit and dedication to the town in the post-war years that have left a legacy still to be enjoyed by the citizens of Gearhart today. One of her favourite projects was the acquisition of land for the Dune Meadows Park, at the west end of Pacific Way, “… a place where people can picnic, relax, play and enjoy the Pacific Ocean … where condominiums would never be built.” Lesley is shown above with blueprints for her vision. She died in 1975 (Jessie Miller Tyndall Collection).
10. Page 123 – In Gearhart, the Dune Hazard Line had real meaning only for those potions of the dune that were in private ownership – primarily the properties on south Ocean Avenue (Gin Ridge). The rest, thanks to Lesley Miller, was parkland, with the exception of one long parcel at the north end of town (Eighth Street), then known as the Fleck property.
11. In Gearhart as everywhere, there will always be a need for spokespersons who can clearly articulate community values. Only once in a generation does a Lesley Miller or a Buel Ward emerge as a public servant wholly dedicated to making Gearhart the best it can possible be.
II. Bonneville Power Administration 1981
The following is a direct quote from the Bonneville Power Administration final Alumax Environmental Impact Statement (BDP 1981) pertaining to Lesley Miller Park in the City of Gearhart.
Page IX-47 (Adobe Page 343) – Gearhart has three parks including Leslie Miller Park and two unnamed park areas. Leslie Miller Park is located on the coast at the northern end of the city. It consists of approximately 75 acres, 2 to 3 acres of which are improved. A small 4-acres park is located at the center of the city, and a large (150-acre), undeveloped park area is located at the south end of town where the Necanicum River empties into the Pacific (BPA 1976).
BPA (Bonneville Power Administration). 1976. Telephone conversation with City Park Directors in Clatsop County. In BPA 1981.
BPA (Bonneville Power Administration). 1981. Final Alumax Environmental Impact Statement (DOE/EIS – 0076). U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, DC. 529 pp. Accessed May 2018, from: https://books.google.ca/books?id=XvUyAQAAMAAJ&pg=SL267-PA47&lpg=SL267-PA47&dq=Leslie+Miller+Park+Gearhart&source=bl&ots=LP4Z9m-3nn&sig=hLAnsUNcHHrY5oL7qLQcxrzdM94&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjJlIWJ5ODaAhWhqFQKHZXtDEYQ6AEISTAK#v=onepage&q=Leslie%20Miller%20Park%20Gearhart&f=false
III. Articles in the Daily Astorian about Lesley Miller Park
Jon Blissett looks back at 55 years of firefighting, the changes he’s seen in the community, and his preference not to locate a new fire station in Lesley Miller Park (Marx 2017).
Residents expressed their discontent with the park even being considered as an option. The park honors Lesley Miller, the Gearhart legend who helped secure the land to be a park from the county (Visser 2017).
Marx, R.J. 2017. Everyday People: Gearhart firefighter, 55 years and counting. The Daily Astorian (March 22, 2017). Accessed October 2018, from: http://www.dailyastorian.com/Local_News/20170312/everyday-people-gearhart-firefighter-55-years-and-counting
Visser, Brenna. 2017. Residents and city clash over Gearhart fire station. The Daily Astorian (May 8, 2017). Accessed October 2018, from: http://www.dailyastorian.com/Local_News/20170508/residents-and-city-clash-over-gearhart-fire-station
Lesley Smith Miller