We received a phone message yesterday from a reporter for the Corvallis newspaper asking whether an odor he described as “smelling like manure” was coming from Albany. I responded by leaving my own message that explained we have no foul odors in Albany and that Corvallis should clean up its air before it migrates our direction. We haven’t heard from him since.

The days of bad smells in Albany are mostly long past, although we have occasional, localized problems as most communities do. The wastewater treatment plant generates some nasty smells, which shouldn’t be too surprising given what it takes in every day. I’ve worked for four cities with treatment plants, and I haven’t visited one yet that smelled nice all the time. Our folks work hard to minimize odors at the Albany Water Reclamation Facility, and we certainly aren’t producing any smells that find their way to Corvallis.

My bet is the sensitive noses at the Gazette-Times were sniffing odors produced by local farmers putting fertilizer on neighboring fields. If not that, then the scents might be traced to Oregon State’s animal barns or Corvallis’ own treatment plant. It’s not our fault that the Oregon Agricultural College chose to locate in Corvallis or that the city treatment plant is near downtown. Clearly, they are generating greater quantities of manure than we are in Albany.

Albany has changed a lot over the last decade or so; and not only do we smell better, but we look better, too. Our downtown has attracted some first-class restaurants and interesting new amenities like the carousel. The last meal I ate in a Corvallis restaurant a few years ago tasted like something that might be served at a cut-rate assisted-living facility dining room, while my recent dinners in Albany have been great. I know I shouldn’t disparage Corvallis in pointing out Albany’s virtues, but I’m not the one who started this.

Corvallis is a nice city with a great city manager (imported from Albany) and, I’m sure, many other good features I haven’t discovered yet. I may spend more time over there after I’m retired, although I rarely visit communities that have no Costco. I’m also concerned about their new odor problem. I’m sure we would be glad to help identify the source of the newspaper’s concern if asked nicely. After all, Albany has been smelling good these days; and we surely don’t need problems from our western neighbor fouling our air.