Residents of the Methow Valley School District should take the time to inform themselves about the proposed Metropolitan Recreation District. There are a total of 16 metro districts in the state and only two are in eastern Washington; one in Eastmont and one in Pullman. All of these districts are considerably smaller and seem to encompass a more select area.
I have spent some time on this to get correct answers. We, as taxpayers of the Methow Valley School District already pay a total of $7.767 per $1,000 of property value which includes the county, school district, towns, libraries, Three Rivers Hospital, cemetery districts, emergency services and Okanogan County Fire District 6. The metro district can ask for 75 cents per $1,000; based on 2013 they would have collected $952,683.42. They will answer to no one and the checks will not come from the county like all other tax levies. The only thing this metro district is about, is control. Do we really need to be controlled that much? Or can the working people of this valley really afford it? To quote a friend, “what is it about communism that you don’t like?”
Leanna Melton, Winthrop
We need a rec district
Our community lacks sufficient recreational facilities for our children. Each fall, 190 youth soccer players crowd onto the elementary school playground area. There is not one regulation-sized soccer field with permanent goals at the elementary school, or the high school.
That’s one sport. The youth football kids seem to be wedged in the baseball area, and in the spring, T-ball, softball and baseball jockey for field space with soccer. The high school teams overflow their space. There is one basketball court in Twisp and another hoop 25 miles north in Mazama. And there are hundreds of adults playing community soccer, basketball, ultimate Frisbee, softball and other activities that require a field or a court.
In Twisp, generous people built a baseball/soccer field 10 years ago. But there was never a source of funding to complete, maintain or update the development. The towns have no money. User groups all agree that if the facility were operational, there would be a significant economic benefit to the town. Fundraisers are held, but the amounts raised are only enough to “band-aid” the operation. Time passes, people move on, the facility continues to deteriorate.
The economics of municipal sports venues is compelling. Look at our hockey rink, where a small youth tournament over a weekend brought in almost $25,000 to the community. Look at soccer. There are over 20,000 kids playing youth soccer in the state of Washington. Hosting a soccer tournament or clinic brings kids, the adults that have to drive them, and the dollars they will spend.
Youth sports are one of many recreational needs in the valley. We need an umbrella organization to coordinate the different recreational interests, provide funding to build and maintain facilities for multi-user groups, and provide the organizational structure for the valley citizens to communicate their recreational desires. It benefits the kids, the adult community, the businesses and property owners. The structure exists; many towns have one. We need a recreation district.
Mary Lee Moseley, Winthrop
Let’s pitch in
I’ve said it before: it takes a valley to raise a child. We need to all pitch in to keep our children safe, to teach them how to play and enjoy the outdoors and respect the world around them and themselves. We work at giving kids in our schools the most wonderful academic experience possible. Summer comes and our kids can hit a river or lake any which way they go in this valley. We need to teach the kids water safety and respect for fast-moving currents.
Where? People come from one end of the valley to the other to use the Wagner Memorial Pool in Twisp. Little ones get started learning the basics of swimming. They learn respect for water. Older kids learn the responsibility of keeping others safe. The swim team keeps over 100 kids polishing their skills. Those kids come from Mazama, Lost River, up Wolf Creek, up Twisp River, Winthrop, Carlton, Twisp and Loup Loup.
As a friend of the pool, I have written letters every year asking for help with the pool. I have put letters in the paper asking for your help. There are a few wonderful people in this valley who have helped. Year after year. But for the rest of you who say “I support the pool,” lip service is just that. Lip service.
We are not talking about a tourist attraction. Yes, tourists find the pool just as they find the skating rink in the winter. We the people of the valley use this pool. I support this effort and hope you will stop being scared and look into how to have this valley support our young people.
I encourage you to find out more about the proposed Methow Valley Recreation District and vote for Julie Palm, Kevin van Bueren, Camden Shaw, Kristin Devin and Julie Muyllaert.
Patty Yates, Twisp
Too much power
The Methow Valley Recreation District is a well-intentioned proposal that goes way too far. This small community supports professional firefighters, a professional ambulance service, we’re paying for a new roof for the high school and at some point we’ll be paying for another fire hall. All well and good and essential. But there’s a limit to what land owners can pay and there should be a limit to what they’re asked to pay for. An aquatic center? An indoor gun range? The possibilities seem endless.
The argument that this is a more equitable way to pay for these recreation projects defies logic. How is it more equitable to force someone to pay for a recreation project they have no interest in or want nothing to do with? How is it more equitable to “leverage the value of second homes” when those folks can’t vote on this issue?
Recent comments suggest we shouldn’t be worried about the proposed recreation district having the power of eminent domain because many other entities have that same power. That’s not a logical argument. I’m sure that initially the board would be very careful and prudent, but we have no idea what a future board would do. If they decided to invoke eminent domain the law would allow it.
Boards don’t always listen to the people they are supposed to be serving and any promises made by the initial board would not be binding on a future board of directors.
We live in a recreation-rich valley with the best ski trail system in the country, great mountain biking, hiking, fishing, hunting etc. We’re surrounded by public lands, there’s no end of recreational opportunities here. But as landowners and ratepayers we can’t be all things to all people and that’s what this proposal tries to do.
The powers of taxation, bond issuance and eminent domain that would be granted to the recreation district by the passage of this proposal are simply too broad. Please consider the issues carefully and vote no.
Matt Firth, Twisp
The poster children for increasing your property taxes — the Wagner Memorial Pool in Twisp and the Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink — certainly deserve more funding. But is that where our priorities should lie? The majority of our citizens would benefit more from their tax dollars being spent on other improvements such as better police and marshal retention with improved salaries and facilities; structural and safety improvements to our public buildings; upgraded town water systems; street repairs; emergency services and responder support; and low-income housing.
Last year the school district was unable to fund the position of family empowerment counselor, which had been crucial to identifying children who lacked basics such as shoes, winter clothing, food and eyeglasses. Seventy percent of our grade school students qualify for reduced cost lunches. “Pay to play” and other fees are the norm for students who want participate in school activities. Does this sound like a community that should commit to higher property taxes which may draw funds away from essential needs when future bond or tax levy needs appear on the ballot?
Unfortunately the proposed Methow Valley Recreation District sounds like a subsidy to businesses that depend on tourist dollars. Should we form a tax district for other businesses or industries that find it difficult to survive without subsidies? Tax support should benefit not just one element of industry in the valley. It should benefit everyone who uses the streets and water, everyone who depends on police, EMT, search and rescue, fire protection, and users of our educational facilities.
Users of our recreational amenities should “pay to play.” Increasing fees, seeking grants, and fundraisers are a better solution to improving recreational venues. This community has proven many times that funds can be raised for popular issues. Isn’t a one-time fundraiser better than a forever tax increase?
Eileen Owen, Winthrop
Be sure to vote
This coming April, the people residing within the Methow Valley School District will be asked to cast a vote for or against the proposed Methow Valley Recreation District. This will directly affect a school district covering approximately two-thirds of the Methow Valley. I urge everyone who is eligible to vote on this issue to learn all the facts of RCW35.61, mainly concerning power of taxation, power of eminent domain (condemnation), expand boundaries, and buying or selling property.
I am not in favor of this issue. It would forever change the “fabric” of this valley. Interestingly, most new people moved to the Methow because they were attracted to the country atmosphere, friendly people and peaceful surroundings, and not a combination implant of Snoqualmie Pass, the Kingdome and La Conner. An overstatement I know, but you get the idea.
But what I really want to say to everyone is, educate yourself and vote — for or against. Know exactly the implications of the results of your vote, but vote. Everyone needs to cast a vote on this issue in April.
Dick Webb, Twisp
Work for it
I was born in the valley and one of the basics we learned was that if you wanted something, you worked for it.
The settlers who came to the valley dug miles of irrigation ditches to water the land and help make it the beautiful place it is. They asked for no help unless it was from a neighbor or at the end of their arm.
I feel if those who want expensive pools, trails, etc., are the ones who should pay for them, not the land owners in School District 350, which contains the largest acreage of private farmland.
There are thousands of acres of government, state and game department land where they can hike, ride bikes, etc. They might have to pay a small fee sometimes but at least it would come out of the user’s pocket and not someone else’s.
It seems everything that is done anymore has to have a grant, taxes or some form of assistance from other than the ones using it. There is no thought of “let’s just get busy and do some of this stuff on our own.”
Cecelia Campbell, Twisp