Less passion, more dialogue
An article on the mass resignations of Westernization board members in the last Methow Valley News states that the request to amend the Westernization ordinance to allow solar panels not visible from SR 20 but visible from other rights of way in the W3 zone, “originated with Little Star but was later characterized by proponents as intended for the entire W3 zone.” I would like to clarify that the individuals who brought the solar initiative to the Westernization board and the Town of Winthrop did so with intent to serve the greater good, not a single institution or agenda.
In fact, there are multiple properties in the W3 zone that will someday be developed and it is a matter of economic and environmental justice that businesses be able to take advantage of the benefits of solar power, with little to no visual impact on the most heavily trafficked W1 zone and minor impact on the W3 zone.
I have been told many times that the Western theme is essential to Winthrop’s survival and that the Westernization board is passionately devoted to it. I have lost count of how many times I have heard the word “passion” used over the course of the solar panel/Westernization drama. I believe it is time for less passion and more reasoned, respectful dialogue.
In the fictitious Western town of Winthrop, we have asphalt roads, gas tanks, electrical meters, dumpsters, parking lots, supermarkets, refrigerated ice rinks, transformers, condensers, power lines, street lights and thousands of cars and RVs each weekend. If the Western theme can co-exist with all these trappings of modern life, is it really so outrageous to suggest that it could accommodate solar panels, too? I was impressed by the dispassionate way in which the amendment was proposed and shocked by the, er … passionate response it drew.
I notice that the Westernization board is seeking new members. What about staffing it with individuals who bring more than passion for Westernization to the table? In my professional experience, successful design review boards are most often made up of individuals with different perspectives and qualifications and they always include architects and planners. The reviews and recommendations of such boards tend to be thoughtful and clear.
It seems that the Westernization board members are always beleaguered and frustrated. Is this because they are given too much responsibility? They review everything from tiny signs to large, complex buildings. Many people have noted that being a board member is important yet very difficult. If it is so important and difficult, what about compensating them for their time and talent?
Margo Peterson-Aspholm, Architect, AIA, Winthrop
A gentle reminder to citizens and visitors to the Methow Valley. When you are on the road and an emergency vehicle is approaching — from either direction — pull over and stop. While this is a basic rule of the road we all know (WA RCW 46/61/210), it is not uncommon to witness drivers disregarding it.
Okanogan County Fire District 6 has been busy this past week with numerous calls, and has encountered multiple citizen driver infractions. For example, on Riverside Avenue in Winthrop, a fire engine with lights flashing and siren wailing, encountered a local resident who drove across the street right in front of the engine. Big. Red. Engine. Lights. Siren.
Responding to a house fire on Highway 20 in Mazama, a pickup truck’s driver ignored the lights, sirens and air horn behind him and just kept trucking. Even when the vehicle in front of him pulled over, he just passed it and continued on. Coming down Pool Hall Hill, same lights, same siren, and some pedestrians decide it’s time to step out into the crosswalk.
Think of it this way — you don’t know where that emergency vehicle wants to go. What if the driver needed to turn onto a driveway or street right where you were not pulling over? Should s/he wonder if you’re going to speed up, or screech to a halt at the last minute? Emergency responders should have the expectation of compliance with Washington state laws and respect for their efforts to arrive at the scene safely.
OCFD6 firefighters appreciate everyone who supports them, they see the many thumbs up on social media, the handwritten signs along the road, and energetic waves of support. Thank you for helping our emergency responders help you.
Eileen “Sam” Owen, Member, Fire District 6 Auxiliary