A Slice of the Pie: Proposed RV Park – Leaning into a fear of the unknown

March 2023 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

During the past several days I have been keeping tabs on an ongoing social media conversation about the proposed 22 space recreational vehicle park near Mark Twain Elementary School and it has really got me to thinking – what is it those who are opposed to the addition of another RV park in Silverton fear most?

Even as I write those words I realize they might raise a few hackles, especially of those whose homes are near the proposed site. And to them I will say, I understand your worries. I also worry each time there is a change in my neighborhood, big or small. And this proposed addition is going to be a big change. 

If built, there is sure to be more traffic, a need for new and different infrastructure and there will be an increased number of people – some long term but many short term – moving in. And I understand that all of that is a real cause for concern to those who live, work or have children being educated nearby.

But might it also be an opportunity as well?

Because there are a lot of people who have family or jobs in Silverton but can’t afford to live here. For them, living in a low-cost RV might be a really smart option. 

In fact, I know many hard-working, community-minded people who have chosen life in an RV over the purchase or rental of a traditional home because… 

…they are retired. My husband has been a park ranger for over 20 years and so I have gotten to know many amazing retirees who have downsized in order to travel. Many volunteer, they run programs, clean bathrooms and use whatever skills they have to make their temporary homes a wonderful place and become an active part of the community in whatever RV park or campground they reside. 

…they work remotely. I know whole families who, because one or both parents are able to “work from home,” they have chosen a nomadic life. The world is their classroom, the outdoors is their living room and their RV park neighbors are their community. They have chosen to see every day as a chance to explore somewhere new rather than to spend their time and money pursuing a mortgage and a more “traditional” life. 

…owning or renting a home is just too expensive. My family has, for several years, owned an RV park in Oregon. It has numerous long-term renters, many of whom are on a fixed income because they are retired, have a disability, or sometimes both. Others have jobs, but simply earn too low a wage for them to put any money aside for a downpayment or a deposit on a home. Instead, they have made their RV their home. They build decks, plant tomatoes in pots, hang patio lights and fly colorful flags. And I can attest that walking through these “neighborhoods” is no different than walking through my own. In fact, in many cases I find them friendlier. With smaller indoor spaces the outdoor spaces get more use. People wave, say hello, they walk their dogs and help each other when someone has a need. 

Which is why I have found occasion to ask myself, as I read through the myriad comments, rife with concern about the proposed RV park, what is the real concern? Is it, as has been stated many times, a developer accused of not being forthright with his plans? Or is it a fear of the unknown – a change to the place we all love?  

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