County should act
Your front-page picture of the un-permitted trailer park development on the banks of the Methow River last week was truly disturbing. We’re glad to see that after numerous complaints, Okanogan County sent a “cease and desist” letter to the property owner. It’s encouraging that the County responds in some way to complaints about un-permitted structures.
But — how effective is the county’s response? It would appear that the county’s success in achieving compliance with building regulations is underwhelming, to say the least. The county received its first complaint about this development a full year ago. Since then, the property owner and county staff have had numerous discussions about the illegality of the development, and the only thing that has changed is that the owner has added more structures! It’s clear that this landowner is ignoring both the law and the county’s weak attempts to gain compliance. What to do?
Your article suggests the obvious solution: “Code-enforcement complaints are criminal investigations and involve the county prosecutor if a person refuses to come into compliance,” according to Perry Huston, county planning director. However, Huston plans only to “send another letter” to the property owner. I wonder what it takes to involve the county prosecutor in a code enforcement action, if Huston isn’t ready to do so now
Huston calls this a “weird case” and says “it’s hard to find parallels.” I’d suggest that he just read further down in your article. While the details are different, the Cottonwood Lane development on the Chewuch River is another instance of flagrant code violations, including un-permitted drainfields and un-permitted structures in the floodplain. Evidently, the county often simply issues variances after-the-fact to allow non-compliant structures to remain, even those that could degrade water quality. We suggest that, instead, the county should be doing whatever it takes to remove them.
The Methow Valley Citizens’ Council encourages you to tell the county you want them to take effective action to ensure respect for rules designed to protect the lands and waters of our beautiful valley.
Melanie Rowland, Board of Directors, Methow Valley Citizens’ Council, Twisp
Responding to tragedy
There are interesting parallels between Parisians’ response to tragedy (the recent terrorist attacks) and ours in the Methow to our wildfires and firefighter deaths. On a positive level, it shows that most of us love where we live and refuse to accept that living there means endless or excessive fear.
It also means that we give each other a lot of support in small and large ways. In both places, there have been numerous small and large gatherings. Some have been to raise money for victims, others to commemorate or memorialize them. Whether in a small valley or a giant city, I think people are very similar and (mostly) well-intentioned.
We have also seen some very negative reactions, spurred on by U.S politicians with little concern for facts. Like after 9/11 but with a somewhat different goal, today we hear right-wing politicians using fear to support their long-standing opposition to immigration. They want us to think that refugees from war-torn countries, like Syria, should be feared and despised based on their nationality alone. They simply ignore the extensive controls we already place on immigrations, particularly from the Middle East.
We should learn something from the country that just suffered a major terrorist attack. Immigration numbers there are proportionally much greater than in the United States. Yet its president Hollande refuses to join right wing French politicians in what he calls their “discourse of fear” to limit immigration.
There is a parallel in Washington state. In a New York Times op-ed article on Nov. 20 (“Why My State Won’t Close Its Doors to Syrian Refugees”), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee acknowledged the dangers of terrorism and the need to take appropriate steps to protect our country. He also said: “I wouldn’t join those who wanted to demonize people because of the country they flee or the religion they practice. I will uphold our reputation as a place that embraces compassion and equality and eschews fear-mongering.”
I’d like to think that the Methow embraces those same principles.
Randy Brook, Twisp (writing from Paris)
Rink needs more help
The community efforts to bring the dream of a sports rink with guaranteed ice to fruition has been incredible. At latest count, we have had over 200 individuals involved with everything from manual labor to skilled carpentry, heavy equipment, lunch brigades, painting, sanding — the list goes on. We could not have gotten so far without each and every one of you who has contributed. As we take pause from our busy lives for Thanksgiving, I want to extend my gratitude and appreciation for the immense support you have shown for this project and to me personally.
As with any complex construction project, we have experienced some hurdles and delays that have been frustrating and have put us behind our goal of completing the project in time for Thanksgiving holiday. In addition to the construction project related challenges, personally, I have just learned that I will need to have hernia surgery on Dec. 2. After this surgery, I will be unable to physically work on the finish work of the job. In order to meet our goal of opening the rink on Dec. 19, we are once again reaching out for a final surge of volunteer help.
Here’s the schedule of what we are hoping to accomplish and the help we are asking for. For the week of Nov. 30 we will be installing the flooring. This week we need strong folks to help us roll it out and prep for the installers. From Dec. 5 to completion, we need experienced, skilled finish carpenters to join us in the last leg of this journey. We will be casing and basing the inside of the building. Even if you could offer a half a day, or a few hours after your work day, every bit helps. This is the most satisfying time, to put a quality finish on this resource that will be a filled with community, joy and recreation for years to come.
Please contact Laurie Ulmer directly at (509) 341-4416 or email Laurie and myself email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, to coordinate.
Marc Robertson, Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink