Parks money not a top priority in bad economy

Sep 08, 2012

Bend Bulletin

Parks money not a top priority in bad economy By Mike Lovely

This economic recession is the worst and is lasting longer than most people thought. Much worse than the recession in 1978-1981+. A lot of folks never seem to grasp the fact that Oregon is one of the last to fail and one of the last to recover. I don’t foresee this trouble ending until the end of 2014, or longer if things don’t change. Not counting our local condition, this is the worst worldwide financial condition I have seen in my adult life. I used to think I was in the middle class; not anymore. This country needs to quit giving financial support, quit selling democracy where it is not wanted, quit manipulating other governments, quit selling drugs, around the world. We need more civility within our borders.

Now, back to local reality. With our long-term unemployment, home foreclosures, people moving out of town, empty commercial spaces, local governments in financial distress; now the Bend Park & Recreation District wants to pass a $29 million bond issue/ballot measure to purchase land and fund future park projects. In my opinion, this is “frosting on the cake," projects that need to wait for better financial times. Just because land prices are cheap, now is not the time to go in debt for it. “The empire is not crumbling," so this bond measure is not a matter of survival. They have even dropped the Mirror Pond project from the bond measure in hopes of making the measure more appealing to the voters.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the park district is doing an admirable job and some folks think they are not doing “their" pet projects fast enough. These are not the days of instant gratification. Periodically someone will suggest that the park district merge with the city of Bend. I say, absolutely not. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke. I have maintained over the years that you can judge the quality of a community by the number and quality of their parks and cemeteries. Bend is at the top of this list.

With this recession, we are not at the end of the tunnel, yet. We have more important financial concerns staring us in the face. Financing for our police department and fire department that are understaffed. 911 needs stable funding, and our one and only county jail needs updating (remember the failed bond measure for that?).

Our dual water source needs to be retained and maintained. It has been ignored for more than 75 years and now it is time to update it. It will cost a lot of money. I think a lot of folks are overlooking the importance of safe/pure drinking water. It is a precious commodity. What happens to an underground water supply in the event of a major earthquake? Over the years, growth should have played a larger role in financing, constructing and maintaining our infrastructures.

Our sewer facility is at/nearing maximum capacity. We need a larger sewer line up 27th Street (I would rather put it out on Hamby Road, rather than tear up 27th Street again). A large portion of our city is still not hooked up to the sewer system. Our road systems need to get back onto a regular maintenance schedule. We need to get a viable tri-county transit district in place with park-and-ride lots. We cannot keep building and maintaining more roads and keep running more automobiles with more expensive fuel.

So, I would rather spend $29 million on some of these more important issues than recreation. A lot of money was raised from private citizens and sources to help OSU-Cascades Campus. Let’s see if there is a like interest for recreation. Just remember, we are still in a recession and a lot of us are on a fixed income that needs fixin’. Please vote no on the $29 million park district bond measure.

— Mike Lovely lives in Bend.

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