Keep it local
Today I received a direct mailing from “Ron Perrow and friends” telling me why I should vote no on the proposed Methow Valley Recreation District. The letter states that we would be better off having our recreational future decided at the county level by our county commissioners. I totally disagree with that idea.
The idea that the county commissioners will represent me better than a locally elected board is laughable. Consider their attempt to “grandfather in” most roads in the Methow Valley for all-terrain vehicle use, just before a new state law took effect. They ignored the state’s safety research and many public requests for a thorough study. I seem to remember that this action was even questioned by the county attorney. It took place with virtually no discussion in public.
Recently, the three county commissioners refused to loan the new Okanogan County Transit Authority a small amount of funds for start-up. Despite the fact that the new bus system and sales tax were approved by the voters in November, Commissioners Kennedy and DeTro apparently said they didn’t think the voters really understood what they were voting for and the voters didn’t really want it.
I’m not sure who these commissioners represent, but it’s not me. I can’t believe that they would consider my best interests in determining what recreational facilities we should have here in the Methow.
The Perrow mailer implies that the county could or would not use eminent domain (aka condemnation) for recreational facilities. However, all counties in Washington state have the right of eminent domain. Here’s what the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), Title 8 has to say: “Every county is hereby authorized and empowered to condemn land and property within the county for public use.” I already have trust issues with the commissioners. Why would I be confident about their wisdom on this?
The new recreation district is not “more government.” It is actually smaller government: locally elected officials, locally raised tax funds, and local projects. If these local officials violate our trust, they can be recalled per Washington law (Chapter 29A.56 RCW).
I’m voting yes for local recreation!
Susan Gallagher, Twisp
Don’t forget candidates
We do not need another recreation bureaucracy with additional taxing authority and the power of eminent domain. However, we will not know whether this taxing district has passed or failed until after the election.
That is why it is important that, at the same time you vote for or against the recreation district, you also vote for one person in each of the five commissioner positions who reflects your values. I know, it doesn’t make sense, but that is the way it has been presented to us as voters.
The Methow Valley News April 2 edition, on pages A1 and A6, has each candidate’s position statement, which will help you make your decision. Or go to someone whose judgment you trust, and get their opinion.
Chrystal Perrow, Winthrop
Don’t count on county
Many of Ron Perrow’s points in his analysis opposing the establishment of a Methow Valley Recreational District appear to be valid. However, based on the article in the same issue discussing the county’s reorganization of the recreation board, his claim that their action makes the Methow Valley district unnecessary is a bit of a stretch.
While the county commissioners have recognized that the existing board was inadequate, they have not yet gone beyond any actual discussions for establishing something more. There is also no discussion about any additional funding to accomplish the goals that such an imagined board might propose.
Historically, the current board hasn’t had enough funding to support just the fair, so reconstituting the board after moving the fair responsibilities to a separate entity suggests that this will be a zero-fund activity. I think the Methow Valley hardly needs a new county organization to tell them they aren’t going to get any money for recreation projects.
Bob Hunt, Renton/Twisp
Time is short
Ballots for accepting or refusing RCW 35.61 should have arrived in your mail by now.
You have had opportunity to read information pro and con concerning the proposed Recreation District. I wish to give thanks for Don Nelson’s editorial (April 2), as well as Ron Perrow’s contributions and the notice to box holders that came in the mail. They outline sensible alternatives to the massive shift of controls that RCW 35.61 would do to the Methow Valley School District, not to mention the invasion into your pocketbook for tax dollars, and the taxation without representation that owners of second homes within the district would be subject to. Our county commissioners are reorganizing their approach to the countywide recreation needs …which I believe is a more sensible approach.
The proponents for the RCW 35.61 district will assuredly turn out a 100 percent yes vote for their desires. And even if it doesn’t start out that way, you may rest assured that every government privilege listed in RCW 35.61 would be used somewhere down the line.
For the rest of us, as the editorial said, this is an issue we cannot ignore by not voting. It is human nature that a certain percentage drag their feet in voting. Some end up not voting by ignoring the issue. In doing so, they are automatically voting for the yes side. I urge you, when you receive your ballot, vote, and send it right back. Don’t lay it aside for the possibility of forgetting it.
Dick Webb, Twisp
Let’s slow down
Just because a group comes to town with a scheme to create a Methow Valley Recreation District does not mean we, the taxpayers, should fall over and endorse it.
The proposed Methow Valley Recreation District under RCW 35.61 plans to fund itself by way of a new property tax which could be as much as 75 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The commission could use eminent domain to condemn your property as it sees fit. The commission could also sell revenue bonds totaling $3,000,000, up to 25 percent of assessed district valuation without a vote.
Many Methow Valley property owners cannot vote for or against this project because they are registered in a different tax district. We already have an Okanogan County Parks and Recreation board. This recreation board does not consider condemnation of private land nor does it impose a new tax. The county is already involved as it supports the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association to the tune of $95,000 per year to maintain its facilities.
Whenever a group is in such a hurry to create such a project as RCW 35.61 without any input from the very people that will fund it, it naturally makes us very uneasy.
Follow the money. Please vote no on RCW 35.61.
Mike Sweeney, Twisp
Some other endorsements
I have lived in the valley for over 40 years. I have volunteered hundreds of hours in support of our youth and community. I have helped build baseball fields, football fields, tracks, tennis courts, grandstands and more. If approved, this proposed Methow Valley Recreation District could place a new tax on my property higher than the amount now assessed by the county. I would urge you to vote no on the formation of this district.
I am more than just a little suspicious of a group with a nice fuzzy-sounding name that doesn’t list their members (Friends Of the Recreation District, or FORD). Sounds nice, but who are they? How long have they lived here? Do they live here? We don’t know who “they” are, but yet here “they” are, endorsing candidates. “They” are pretty savvy about elections. With five commissioner positions there are five FORD-endorsed candidates. One for each position. No splitting votes for “them.”
I would like to provide you with some Gary Erickson-Endorsed (GEE) candidates. My GEE candidates are recommended primarily because they would rather not see the district formed. However, I believe they would make excellent watchdogs on behalf of the taxpayers. So, in an effort to not split the vote, the GEE candidates are: Position 1, Don Fitzpatrick; Position 2, Chris Holm; Position 3, Steven Stacey; Position 4, Bart Bradshaw; Position 5, Paula Stokes.
I would like to point out that my “endorsements” are in no way intended to be a negative comment on the FORD candidates. No matter who you support, please take the time to vote. If you don’t you lose your voice. Then those of us who do vote don’t really care what your opinion is, since it doesn’t count.
Gary W. Erickson, Twisp
Relying on hope
I voted for the formation of the Methow Valley Recreation District for several reasons, one being that I liked that it was well-intentioned but imperfect. That reminds me of many of us living here. That could even be a motto for the Methow.
The brouhaha over the potential creation of the district brought up some interesting issues, many worth discussing. It also revealed that fear and loathing is alive and well in the valley, which is understandable when talking about increasing property taxes, creating more bureaucracy, or the possibility that your land could be seized for a frisbee golf course.
Maybe the county’s 2012 recreation plan will result in improving and building recreational fields and facilities in the valley. I look forward to seeing that plan kick into action. In lieu of any long-term planning, we can always rely on hope (aside from the good folks of the Winthrop Kiwanis). Like, I hope the pool is open this summer. Or, I hope someday the kids will have a decent soccer field to play on. I guess when they complain about running around on a field of dirt, weeds and rocks, I can remind them that they can always go fishing.
Paul Butler, Mazama