To The Eagle:
The link included at the end of this letter will take you to an interesting short article by a national authority on parks and recreation's views on the importance - even necessity - of re-inventing our parks to meet the changing needs of our people.
Jim Reed's 5-23-2012 nine-page commentary addressed to Mayor Wehrfritz, and The Eagle challenges the notion of placing a food bank in a municipal park. He mentions Bay Area parks with more acreage than the entire Town of Cathlamet as models of greenspace. He dismisses "assertions" that Longview and Astoria's parks have been evolving to multiple purposes, attaching a printout showing no food banks in those cities' parks as proof that there is no evolution and no food bank need in any park. He errs in taking too narrow a view of Astoria's and Longview's park websites for two reasons:
1. Those cities' websites describe a palette of services offered by their parks that has been expanding and evolving since they came into being. They still are, for the very reasons and needs outlined in the referenced link. Note particularly the mention of growing food, making better use of water, saving energy, and promoting health. Could it be that Astoria and Longview's exponentially greater size and resources have allowed them the land and opportunity to place their food banks and other human services elsewhere?
2. If you listen to the "electeds" and park managers in Astoria and Longview, they will tell you that their park assets must meet changing needs in ways that the people want and their communities can afford. They may feel constrained by limits on funding, but they would freely admit that their park assets, which exceed the Town of Cathlamet's manyfold, give them a comparative luxury of choices for locating various services to the people.
Mr. Reed's Letter to The Eagle (published May 31, 2012) asks how a food bank would enhance Erickson Park. There were several speakers at the May 22 meeting who explained their views why it would. I would like to hear Mr. Reed describe what people can not do in Erickson Park if the food bank does go in there.
The food bank committee is working hard to prepare a presentation on what food bank siting options were considered, what the pros and cons are, and how they reached their recommended site. They are scheduled to do that on June 12 at the Cathlamet Main Fire Station meeting room from 6 to 8 p.m. I'm looking forward to listening carefully to their analysis. I urge you to attend, and give them the fair hearing they deserve.
The article can be found at http://www.earthadvantage.org/resources/press-room/articles-for-reprint/smart-growth-sharpens-focus-on-multi-use-urban-parks/.
Richard A. Swart
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