For the past several months we've occasionally heard about several initiatives being put forward in the county, and one has a near-term public impact: a proposed parks and recreation district for the county.
Considering it was on the ballot recently (and failed), you may recall this initiative. Supporters of the idea are intent on a better public relations campaign this time, and on the whole have made some headway. Their petition has been certified and the issue will be on the ballot in May.
In the meantime, voters will have to cut through the propaganda and decide if a parks and recreation is for us.
Supporters of the proposed district are offering a 36 cents per $1,000 tax on real property to pay for the district and estimate that $180,000 annually would be raised from the tax. They laud the possibility of a pool, sports and activity programs for seniors and youth, and a dedicated, paid staff to administer the programs. The economic carrot is the promise of fair-sized sports tournaments that will bring in many hundreds of people from outside the county who will spend their money here. Supporters recently brought in a fellow from John Day to speak to the benefits Grant County has enjoyed over the past decade with its parks and recreation district.
But we don't see where Grant County is all that better off than we are. A population here of just over 7,000 residents (versus 7,750 in Grant County) may not be enough to sustain a vibrant, multifaceted park and recreation district. And we already have youth soccer, baseball, softball, bowling and hockey. In regard to the influx of sports tourists, for the skeptical among us it sounds like an "if you build it, they will come" scenario. Geography seems to defeat the idea.
Yet, for now, we'll keep an open mind about the issue. If supporters can offer more than anecdotes and promises, and give folks hard data and solid plans, we're willing to listen. As they say in Missouri: "Show me."
Welcome to the discussion.
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