More reasons for ‘no’

Dear Editor:

Here are a few new reasons to oppose the Methow Valley Recreation District ballot measure. Once we begin to spend our recreation dollars via taxation and a new government body, rules come into force which limit or event prohibit volunteer labor. Furthermore, government spending must use union labor and/or pay prevailing wages. That means that money we raise will be largely spent on contractors from outside the valley. Everything will be done at maximum cost.

A recent letter to the editor demonstrated first that there will be no shortage of projects to spend all possible budget authority, and second that our expectation must be that the money will be for the children. The writer also pointed out that the playing field we have in Twisp is not maintained. I could wish that the writer would mow the grass herself rather than demanding tax money from me. The unmaintained playing field in Twisp is a warning. All too often things are built with no thought to ongoing maintenance.

Finally, there seems to be the presumption that the Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink will benefit from this tax district. At the beginning I was mildly supportive of the rink as a volunteer project with willing supporters. However, the rink has scoffed at the county glare ordinance for years now, and my support has worn thin. At my age I do much more star gazing than hockey playing, and the rink blots out the dark sky all too often.

Dan Aspenwall, Winthrop

Sign up

Dear Editor:

Thanks to all who have renewed memberships at the Methow Valley Community Center. Someone asked, “What do you get when you become a member?” Good question. You can get inspired, you can get connected, you can get married, you can get tired (in a good way), you can get fit, you can get educated, you can get memories, you can get information.

Yes, the community center is a place to give, and you get to belong to a worthwhile resource. So, get going and send in your membership today. We, the board and staff, thank you so much. We get excited and inspired by you while taking care of our community jewel.

Carolyn Sullivan, Vice president, MVCCA board

Too many questions

Dear Editor:

I’m still waiting for the proponents of the Methow Valley Recreation District to respond to questions raised by Katie Haven in her Feb. 26 letter to the editor. Haven asks why the recreation district was created under the Metropolitan Park District state statute instead of the Recreation Districts Act for Counties, which appears to be the far better option.

In my opinion, the most important difference in the two recreation district options is that voters would be able to vote on the proposed recreation levies under the counties option, similar to other levies in the valley such as the school maintenance levy. I would vote for a small-scale recreation levy that focused on expenditures that many agree are needed, such as annual maintenance for the Wagner Memorial Pool in Twisp. However, I should have the opportunity to vote against a levy that includes expenditures I oppose, such as court proceedings against landowners to secure recreation easements.

This valley has an incredible amount of public land available for recreation. Organizations such as the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association have done a wonderful job working with private landowners to secure easements on private land. Do we really need to give the recreation district the power to take a landowner to court to secure a recreation easement?

Proponents argue that other agencies have the power of eminent domain, so why shouldn’t the recreation district? Eminent domain is a tough but sometimes necessary means of providing vital services such as power and water to the public. In my opinion, a recreation easement is not a vital service and should be secured by negotiation, not force.

Finally, I find it a little disingenuous of Kristin Devin to argue (March 12) that she is willing to pay “her fair share” in taxes to support the recreation district when she will potentially earn thousands of dollars in compensation as a board member. Is this kind of financial compensation even necessary considering that board members of far more important organizations in the valley (such as Room One and The Cove) receive little or no compensation?

I do not support the recreation district in its current form.

Dave Hopkins, Twisp

Examine priorities

Dear Editor:

Voters in the Methow Valley are in the process of reviewing information about the proposed recreation district. Read their web site and you’ll find that most of the projects reflect special interests. Many of these projects have received considerable donations already and should rely upon their sponsors for securing additional funding or grants.

In an effort to make certain that all the effects of this proposal are shared, here are some facts from the state’s website:

In our taxing county, 56 percent of residential real estate taxes are delinquent and 1,446 senior citizens have real estate tax relief.

In the Methow Valley School District, 23 students are homeless and 49 percent are provided free or subsidized lunches. Both numbers have increased dramatically in the past few years and are higher than state averages.

Look at your real estate tax bill due this April and review the 11 tax items and consider that both the schools and fire protection district will probably have important levies this November possibly addressing these school issues and other special education student needs; and Okanogan County Fire District 6 equipment/facilities improvements to possibly avoid a substantial increase in our fire insurance premiums.

Maybe we aren’t as affluent as we think we are. This means that we should examine our priorities. Can we really afford the recreation district?

Duncan Bronson, Winthrop

Small price to pay

Dear Editor:

I am writing in support of the upcoming recreation district vote. I’ve read some of the letters to the editor from good people who seem to view this vote in the context of some larger philosophical battle over the role of government and taxation. I would encourage them to take a step back and take a look at what the district would mean to your friends and neighbors.

Do you have kids or grandkids who use the Wagner Memorial Pool in Twisp? It is a wonderful community resource that struggles to survive on a shoestring budget that strains the Twisp town budget. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a source of funds to spruce it up?

Do you have kids or grandkids who play soccer? Have you seen the fields they play on? Wouldn’t it be great if they had a decent field to practice and play on?

You can find a list of potential projects at the recreation district’s website.

I understand the reluctance to add another tax. We don’t want to be like Seattle, which seems to regularly vote to add a new tax for one thing or the other. But the recreation district will be similar to a library or hospital district, with a modest levy for a specific purpose. According to the website, it is likely to be something like 10 cents per $1,000. That would be a tax of $20 on a $200,000 house. I say that’s a small price to pay for projects that are important to our community and enhance the local recreation economy.

Steve Saunders, Twisp

Is it sustainable?

Dear Editor:

Those who have argued for the Methow Valley Recreation District on the grounds of economic stimulus are only selfishly considering one side of the picture.

Taxes take money out of the economy. Businesses and families then have less to spend on things they choose. Entities that receive the tax monies then redistribute it (uncontrollably, in this case), to friends, allies, cohorts — you get the picture.

This kind of socialism leads to crony-capitalism and fraud where the haves can play at the expense of the have-nots.

If you like the concept of sustainability, apply it to the recreation district. If it can’t pay for itself, maybe it shouldn’t be there.

If you’re going to play the “for the kids” card, many psychologists would argue that kids are too structured, thus taking the “create” out of recreation.

The kids who visit my neighborhood are usually building forts, riding bicycles, inventing games, running wild and loud in the woods and on the grounds. I love the noise!

Betty Vaughn, Winthrop

Great play

Dear Editor:

Kudos to The Merc Playhouse for bringing Over the River and Through the Woods, now playing through this weekend. Kudos also to Laurelle Walsh for her wonderful directing and hopefully the beginning of a budding career. The cast was like a fine ensemble, so much fun to watch. The play itself was full of humor, comedy and meaning. A must see.

Olivia Rose, Winthrop

Good reasons for district

Dear Editor:

As a Town of Winthrop resident I attended the advertised community forums on the creation of a Methow Valley Recreation District in our area. My primary interests were taxpayer fairness and the long-term financial sustainability of our city parks and other recreational facilities within the proposed district. The meetings were informative, with citizens openly discussing the pros and cons of such a district.

Through thoughtful discussion it was recommended that a committee be formed to legally start the initiative process and if successful to bring it to the registered voters of the community. I am in favor of creating a recreation district under 35.61 RCW for the following reasons:

• Stringent Washington state laws are in place for the formation of a recreation district that will address how taxes will be administered, when bonds are allowed, guidelines for compensation of commissioners and the prohibition of condemning or taking of property without due process and proof of public good.

• Local taxes, administered by elected local citizens, for local recreational opportunities. No unnecessary county oversight is needed.

• Taxpayer fairness — the property owners in the towns of Winthrop and Twisp are paying taxes that support our city park amenities, ball fields, tennis courts and swimming pools. We support the Winthrop Barn and the Methow Valley Community Center. These facilities are heavily utilized by the entire community and need added support for maintenance and updates.

I am pleased that there are a number of citizens running for recreation district commissioner positions. Hopefully those elected would be proactive and supportive of the district.

Roxie Miller, Winthrop