A couple of years ago, when the Twisp Parks and Recreation Commission was charged with updating the town’s parks and rec plan, commission members came to a quick conclusion: there was no plan. At least nothing that could be called “comprehensive.”
What existed when the all-volunteer group started its work in 2019 was a 2014 document that focused predominantly on trail development ideas, few of which have been notably advanced since then.
The commission agreed that “comprehensive” really should mean “comprehensive,” and proceeded on that basis. The result — a 35-page, dense-packed plan that offers specific goals across the town’s entire range of parks and rec opportunities — was recently delivered to the Town Council for review. It’s a lot to absorb, but worth the effort.
“We revisited the objectives of that  plan and also broadened the scope of our revision to include not only trails and paths but also town parks and related facilities, open space, and river access — all of which are, or should be, parks and recreation priorities,” the commission said in its introductory letter to the council.
It’s not just a plan. It’s a statement — one the council should heed and then begin laying the groundwork for meaningful action. It’s also a vision — inclusionary, ambitious and forward-looking. The commission’s members should be commended for being proactive and insistent on expanded community involvement in parks-and-rec decision making. Their work represents citizen involvement at its best.
As the commission noted, the town has valuable assets, most notably Twisp Park, with more potential. Beyond that, the commission regards the town as an integral part of the valley’s recreational offerings, with the opportunity — the obligation, really — to integrate Twisp’s existing or potential trails with other valley recreation corridors. Connectivity is essential.
Great ideas, of course, and who doesn’t like parks and trails? As Twisp grows — and there is every indication that it will, based on existing development proposals that would boost the town’s population —recreational opportunities would be an attractive amenity for people who want to live closer to services but still be physically active and engaged.
The bigger question is how to move from planning to execution. This is not a plan that should be parked for another seven years, like the previous one. Money will be involved, and the town isn’t plush with resources. There are some possibilities out there, including creation of a valley-wide recreation district; and more aggressive proposals for state Recreation and Conservation Office funding, which has been crucial to several large projects in Winthrop. Looming large is the question of how to replace the Wagner Memorial Pool, which will be a costly project that deserves valley-wide interest and support.
The parks and rec commission will soon be reaching out for public feedback. We’ll let you know how to participate when we have more details. Commission members will likely be looking not only for your thoughts, but also some sense of prioritization. Ultimately, responsibility for realizing the plan’s goals will be handed off to the town’s elected officials and staff, but it won’t go anywhere without residents’ strongly expressed support and commitment to action.
Better than a lump of coal
You could call them unexpected stocking-stuffers, if you think nearly $1.2 million worth of state grants might fit in a stocking. The Town of Winthrop got an early Christmas gift surprise package recently when the state Transportation Improvement Board announced two grants: one for long-awaited improvements to Horizon Flats Road, and one for extension of sidewalks along Castle Avenue and Corral Street. (See related story, on the front page.)
Like Santa, the state can work in mysterious ways. The sidewalk and Horizon Flats Road projects have been on the town’s wish list for a long time, and Winthrop officials have patiently been resubmitting grant requests after not making the cut in previous years. Seems like it pays to be persistent and nice.
Twisp and Winthrop have consistently taken advantage of state and federal grants to support vital infrastructure projects that the towns could not afford on their own. The next time you’re inclined to gripe about what government does for us, take a look around. The evidence is everywhere, right here in our little communities.