In Our View: Arnada — Proud & Feisty

Quaint, vibrant neighborhoodhas many reasons to boast

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Multiple characteristics define Arnada as one of the most distinctive neighborhoods in Clark County. Start with the name: According to the book “Naming Clark County” by Pat Jollota, “Arnada” was formed by a developer in what originally was called Vancouver Heights, using letters from the first names of three friends: AR from Margaret Ranns; NA from Anna Eastham; and DA from Ada Elwell. It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city with many homes built in the early 1900s. The 36-year-old Arnada Neighborhood Association was the first group to be so designated.But what really drew our attention to Arnada this week was the pride and feisty busy-ness that flows among almost 1,000 residents of the area bounded by Main Street, Interstate 5 and Mill Plain and Fourth Plain boulevards. That spirit chronicled by John Branton in Wednesday’s Columbian is reflected in dozens of examples, from big-ticket items like the new community garden to be planted this spring, to Arnada’s innovative tool-lending library in Suze Marshall’s garage.

Granted, neighborhood pride is found throughout our community, but it’s hard to find Arnada’s vibrant combination of quaint setting, central-but-relatively-secluded location and historic background. To that third point, Marshall (co-chair of the association) and her neighbor two doors down, Holly Chamberlain (a private consultant for historic and cultural projects), are leading the effort to achieve an official historical neighborhood from the state. There’s only one of those in Vancouver: historic Hough. A historical survey already has been compiled in Arnada, and the complicated process will intensify in coming months. But already we know that Arnada is historic; 38-year resident Fred Langer has the horse rings in the concrete in front of his house to prove it.

Historic doesn’t mean rooted solely in the past, however. Arnada has this funky kind of attitude going for it, exemplified by that huge, green fleur-de-lis pavement mural at East 22nd and D streets. At that same intersection, you’ll find a unique public bench and a kiosk with a public bulletin board.

Arnada is at once sassy and dignified, with a healthy blend of the old and the new. Much of the residents’ pride is based on their walking-distance proximity to Main Street’s Uptown Village with shops, markets, restaurants, bakeries and doctors’ and dentists’ offices. These folks can even walk to the new downtown library, and for the more adventurous, long-term transportation plans include a light-rail line through the middle of Arnada, leading to nearby Clark College to the east and, to the south, downtown Vancouver and Portland.

“It’s very well located for access to everything,” 37-year Arnada resident Jerry Kessel was quoted in Branton’s story. Then again, we suspect many people reading this editorial haven’t visited Arnada’s inner streets in a long time, if ever. And that’s fine with the folks who prefer quaint and cozy over hectic and rushed.

Congratulations to the multi-generational residents of Arnada for making their neighborhood a fine place to live. Keep up the hard work and that proud attitude.