More ‘fox news’
In a Jan. 29, 2023, interview in the New York Times, Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, a celebrated professor and author (and my personal hero) says she has a fantasy of more “Fox News,” by which she means, literally, news about foxes. She says, “Our attention has been hijacked by our economy, by marketers saying you should be paying attention to consumption, you should be paying attention to violence, political division. What if we were paying attention to the natural world?” She goes on to say that environmentalism shouldn’t be just about gloom and doom or finger wagging but also about celebrating the beauty that’s out there, which is healing within itself.
I couldn’t agree more! And it’s with great pride that I see the Methow Valley participating in our own version of “fox news” in many ways. The headlines of the Methow Valley News often relate to the flora and fauna of the region. Just last week Joanna Bastian covered bees in her back page column, and Sandra Strieby regularly keeps us updated about plants of the region, including last year’s mysterious persistent leaves. The Methow Valley Naturalist with Dana Visalli, the Methow Conservancy’s Backyard Bulletin, and the new Methow Nature Notes by David Lukas all regale us with the many gifts and joy of this beautiful place.
There may be even more Methow Valley “fox news” that I’m not aware of! When I see the headlines of other newspapers or news outlets focused on violence and gloom, I am reminded of what a special place we have here. Thank you to everyone who’s out there observing and sharing. To quote another favorite poet and naturalist, Mary Oliver, “Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”
Rosalee de la Forêt
Something to consider
Residents will have an opportunity in coming weeks to petition for creation of a new tax district. A valley-wide recreation tax district could help fund and operate a new aquatic center in Twisp. Please consider some of the details about the proposal.
The following points are from the Methow Valley Aquatic Center Feasibility Study Final Report by Ballard*King & Associates of Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
• “The desired program for a new indoor aquatic center includes a six-lane [competition] pool [7,800 square feet], a recreation pool [3,000 square feet] and a hot tub supported by administrative offices, a multi-purpose room, locker and restroom facilities and various support spaces.”
• “The projected capital cost for the project is estimated to be $20,085,723 based on 2022 costs.”
• An aquatic center would operate at a deficit of $563,095 per year or a cost recovery of 37%.
• “A new aquatic center (outdoor or indoor) will not be able to cover its cost of operation by revenues generated from the facility.”
• “The Primary Service Area [the Methow Valley School District boundary] has a small permanent population base to support a comprehensive aquatic/recreation center. A new center will need to draw from the second homeowners and visitors to the area to be financially viable.”
• “The population of the Primary Service Area is much older than the state and national median age … The Primary Service Area has a median household income level that is less than the state and national levels.”
• The preferred tax district is a Metropolitan Park District (MPD). A MPD can levy taxes and take on debt. “At the full levy capacity, a median valued home (according to Zillow home value estimate as of Oct. 15, 2022) of $468,620 would expect to pay about $350 a year in property taxes to the MPD. Alternatively, for every 100,000 in assessed home value, the property tax impact is $75.”
The Wagner Memorial Pool deserves refurbishment or replacement. Some assume that the solution is a new indoor aquatic center with two pools. Is that the right assumption? How sound are the cost estimates? Is an aquatic center the right priority for our valley at this time? You decide.