Letters to the Editor

Difficult meetings and mismanagement have taken their toll | Letter to the Editor

I don’t blame anyone for not going to Vashon Park District meetings. Witnessing that toxic environment is a lousy way to end a work day.

I’ve been at most of them since last autumn, along with a small group of regulars who seem to be there representing their programs,  such as Point Robinson, the pool, the skate park and Paradise Ridge Park, all of which depend on VPD funds and services. These programs have been continually threatened by the commissioners’ colossal mismanagement of the VES fields project.

As more of the commissioners’ actions have come to light, I’ve wondered why so few people seem to care. Guaranteeing a matching contribution with funds that never existed and stating that $125,000 of Vashon Park District funds were to be contributed to the project. That part’s now well over $1,250,000 (1,000 percent more than estimated); the lack of skilled project management and oversight; continuing changes to the project as deliverables diminished but costs increased; this year’s critical State auditors’ report; the impact on Vashon Park District staffing, programs and services as more funds are poured into VES.

Look at the history of other major park district programs. You’ll find committed volunteers who championed developing and sustaining those projects. The equestrian community made sure the funds were raised before any work to cover the Paradise Ridge arena was begun.

This was clearly not the case with the VES fields. The evidence is that VES was never driven by community support but by the egos of a few VPD commissioners. Even before the first phase of the VES grant was signed in March 2008, the VPD commission failed to rally the principal users of the fields. This would have made an entirely different experience and a source of community pride rather than bitter feelings, recrimination and contention.

There’s a park district election coming up for commissioners. You might want to vote for commissioners who will lead in making the great a great place to work and who will attend to the whole system.

— Steve Sussman

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