MAPARD Levy – Open Letter to WSVEF

Dear White Salmon Valley Education Foundation Board and Supporters,

As an educator I know that simply having books available for kids doesn’t mean they can access the words and information within.  Teachers go to great lengths to make sure students have the skills to read and comprehend, or bring the words and stories to students in other ways… they make it accessible.

The commissioners of Mt. Adams Park and Recreation District (MAPARD) believe this to be true of healthy, enriching recreation activities and services.  While it is a privilege to live here, surrounded by these mountains, rivers and forests with all of the recreation possibilities out our back door we also face specific barriers to accessing these because we are in a rural community.

For me, I see a fully funded MAPARD as part of the continuum of care for our kids; the same continuum that the White Salmon Valley Education Foundation serves.  If we are all about the kids then we have to be about the schools and staff.  And if we are all about the kids then we have to be about their families, their physical and financial health, their neighborhood, their safety, their town and their region.  We are all about their Village.

Considering the known, quantified benefits of a fully funded park and rec district, MAPARD must be viewed as an essential public service, just like fire/police, hospitals, electricity and schools.  Every community within the MAPARD district reports a serious lack of afterschool activities for kids.  White Salmon, although fortunate for its geographic nearness to many services and a community that supports its schools so generously, still cannot meet the demand for after school care or activities.  

I have an image in my mind that absolutely encapsulates why we need a park and rec district so badly.  As I drive past the apartment complex near Skyline Hospital and I see the dozens of kids playing there, at the foot of one of the best mountain biking trail systems in The Gorge.  While one family of four siblings take turns on a ratty old scooter, they pause to watch the Sprinter drive past with bikes strapped to its top.  Five bikes on top of a car that cost more than their rent for a year.  And when those kids  surround my son to admire a $50 helmet I bought him, asking if they can try it on it hits me… I’m one of the ‘haves”

That world class bike trail, that mountain, that river– a HELMET, for crying out loud—is not accessible to so, so many of our kids and families.  So when we think about voting for a proposal that adds a tax of $18 dollars per year for the average homeowner, and we start to hug our wallets and purses a little closer, pause and look around.  If you own property and are likely to be paying that miniscule property tax, you are also one of the ‘haves.’

Whether as an organization or individually please think genuinely about supporting our Village, and finally allowing MAPARD to operate the way it is designed.

Laurie Stanton, Vice Chair Mt. Adams Park and Rec

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