Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: Feb. 18

Library

Relocation would serve Island well

I am a sculpture artist with a studio at Beall Greenhouses. I am a frequent user of the Vashon Library, which I use for computer access and to do research for my artwork. Thank you to the wonderful staff who are always patient with my many questions.

The move of the library to K2 Com-mons, where a huge parking lot exists, is truly a great decision. My observation is that 75 percent of computer users are school-age children, the vast majority of whom are schooled near K2. The move would allow them to walk to the library.

Parking at the existing library is often difficult and ingress/egress, particularly at ferry traffic times, can be dangerous. K2 Commons will be served by Metro, school buses, Access Van and K2’s own shuttle service, making it more accessible to more Islanders.

I feel that the fight to keep the location the same is a fight against the mythical beast of change. In democracy, all should speak their individual voices and lobby their personal agendas, but the collective good should rule.

The library at K2 is a cornerstone to the rebirth of an old idea. In that, I speak of the greater picture that the library at K2 will set a trajectory of change. The change will help transform an empty building from jobs lost to civic-centered space with jobs gained. The rental space at K2 is affordable. The affordability will stimulate more small business.

Vashon is a special place, where the effects of decisions are felt immediately. King County Library System has made a forward-thinking decision to be part of something greater than a library. They see the opportunity to be a part of a collective good that will feed, employ, entertain and keep greater Vashon healthy.

Be strong — the sky is not falling.

— Anthony Kaufmann

Move is old idea

I have followed The Beachcomber’s coverage of the K2 Commons development since its inception, most recently the discussions of the zoning change and the library move.

Very interesting reading.

Front-page headline from a Beachcomber article of Dec. 5, 2007 — “K2 could morph into a civic center” — says, “A new Vashon library would also be part of the mix: the King County Library System has already made an offer on an 8,000-square-foot structure adjacent to the main building and remains interested in the site now that Sontgerath has stepped into the picture, library officials said Monday.”

Further in the same article: “Rep. Sharon Nelson, an Islander who works as King County Councilman Dow Constantine’s chief of staff, said Constantine has been briefed about the project and will do what he can to support the necessary zoning changes. A new version of the Island’s comprehensive plan includes language that allows the county to revisit the zoning for the K2 site next year, she added.”

Interesting that, more than a year later, as the K2 developers appear to be getting close to making their vision a reality, the nay-sayers are busy! Interesting that King County Library System, which was told by the Vashon Park District board that their lease would not be reviewed and therefore undertook an extensive study for a new library location, are now the “bad guys.” Interesting that the zone change, part of King County’s very public year-long comprehensive plan review, is being characterized as having taken place “in the dead of night.”

I have had the pleasure of touring the K2 project with Truman and Dick and applaud their vision. Both these guys are “long-timers” with deep roots and demonstrated commitments to their community. Mostly, I applaud their staying on the “high road.” I choose to believe that it will serve them, their project and our community well.

— Joseph P. Wood

Recognition

Kenny’s columns

I was disappointed to see that you did not include one of my favorite Beachcomber columnists in your end-of-the-year “thank you.” I have enjoyed naturalist Erin Kenny’s educational columns for years and wanted to publicly acknowledge her contribution not only to our local newspaper but also to our community.

— Adrienne Forest

School bond

‘Pay it forward’

Years ago, the school district my children were in had successive bond and levy failures, and the schools were on the verge of losing their accreditation. The cost of a private school alternative was staggering.

Recently, thinking about how schools are financed, I thought of a concept I heard of called “pay it forward.” Checking the pre-eminent authority Wikipedia, I found this definition:

“Essentially, the concept of ‘pay it forward’ consists of paying someone else (a third party) with a good deed for what another has done for you. When the third party asks how he can pay you back, ask him to help someone else in need, or pay it forward.”

It’s not too much of a stretch to say this definition applies to the way we have to finance our education. Individual financing of education is not an alternative. My parents couldn’t have afforded my education, and when I found out what it might mean to have to pay for my children’s, I truly appreciated our public school system.

On a tour that included the boys’ locker room, I had a moment of déja vu back to when I was in high school. This is not an exaggeration, as any of you who have availed yourselves of the tour can attest.

The facilities we educate our children in are substandard by any criteria for school facilities. If we don’t act now, they will only continue to deteriorate, and the cost to update them will escalate.

Anybody who has benefited from their education and has seen the benefit accrue to their children and/or grandchildren needs to continue supporting the schools to perpetuate the affordability of education for those who follow.

I urge you to “pay it forward” by voting for the school bond.

— Mike Collins

Athletics are vital

My three children went through the Vashon school system. I also had 27 foster children in my home. I had only two rules. They had to go to school, and they had to play sports. With those requirements, everything else took care of itself.

I can’t tell you how much I value the importance of athletics in young people’s lives. I feel that I proved it with so many of my wonderful kids and foster kids. I will have their success as adults in my heart forever. I love them all, and I encourage you people to get as many facilities as you can for them.

— Frances Wright

An explanation of tax impacts

I am responding to Hilary Emmer’s op-ed about the school bond (Feb. 11).

Ms. Emmer is correct in stating that the district has “underfunded maintenance for years.” Maintenance funding comes from the general fund, which also pays for teachers, supplies and utilities.

Vashon, as a community, has historically made class size a top priority, leaving inadequate general fund dollars for facility upkeep. To correct this problem, the school board doubled maintenance staff this year. Next year, they plan to add more staff. The capital improvements that the school bond provides will allow them to focus on preventive maintenance as opposed to constantly reacting to aging systems, as is the case now.

Contrary to Ms. Emmer’s assertion that the district condones a throw-away culture, the bond proposal reuses 80 percent of the existing high school footprint, extending building life from 60 to 100 years, while also providing educational and safety enhancements.

She also implies that the district is misleading taxpayers by using the 12-year tax rate average versus the current rate. It’s true that school taxes are lower in 2008-09 than they have been in decades. That’s because in 2007 a capital levy expired and VISD returned money from a legal settlement over construction defects at Chautauqua. These tax rates are not typical, which is why we use the average tax rate from 1996 through 2008 ($1.58 per $1,000 of assessed value). It better reflects VISD’s true capital costs.

To put it in perspective: If we pass this bond, the 2010 tax rate for school capital projects will go back up to what it was in 2006: $1.91 per $1,000 of assessed value, or $955 for a $500,000 home. If you include the district’s existing Maintenance and Operations Levy (already on your tax bill), the total school tax would be less than it was in 2006.

Contact me at aatwell@vashonsd.org or 463-2121, ext. 8114, with questions.

— Anne Atwell, Vashon Island School District

Invest in the future

To all my fellow seniors: Shame on us if we feel we can’t afford the small percentage of extra taxes to honorably educate our children in adequate facilities.

Levies have been passed by previous generations over the years to build schools for us and our children. Now we are concerned. We need the same support for our grandchildren. Could you believe they deserve less?

We must afford this. The generations before us have paid for our children to have good schools and now it is our turn and our obligation. The costs are not the issue, our duty is the issue.

The best investment we can make in today’s economy is the education of our children for the future and that includes facilities for all parts of their spirits. A new gym for sports and to be together and have fun is much better for our children than KVI Beach as a place to party.

Please join us in voting yes for this bond. Yes! It’s worth it!

— Diane and Bob Brenno

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