Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: March 31

Family Link

Program has helped

Thank you for the great story about the FamilyLink program that has been supporting homeschooling families since a time that homeschooling was thought of, and written, as two words (home schooling) by those who knew little about it.  

It has been close to 20 years since three parents sat in the office of then Superintendant Monte Bridges and proposed what we wanted from the school district. The timing was right, the superintendent was right, and the families were energized to start up a program that many thought would fail. Dr. Bridges lived up to our great expectation by building the plan to present to the school board. He was far ahead of his time, being the first superintendent to attend The Washington State Homeschool Convention, visit existing homeschool-public school programs with parents and leading the district toward a much-needed and appreciated alternative program that was originally steered by parents.  

The graduation statistics gathered for the recent article as being 36 percent above the state average for homeschooling programs and 22 percent above the state average for public schools are staggering.  

I want to say thank you to all of those families who were there at the beginning, all those who have come since, the staff, the school board and especially Monte Bridges, who was able to see our vision and help us carry it out.

— Jan Slater

Village Green

The homeless aren’t the culprits

Thank you for your thoughtful editorial concerning the drug activity in the Village Green. As one of the primary players in acquiring the park and a close neighbor, I’ve always taken a keen interest in the park. It was a hard sell, at first, to convince the community that the best use of that property was as a central community park and a home for our wonderful local farmers market.

Drug activity in town is not new. It’s been an ongoing problem for years. When the community gets involved and pushes for more enforcement by the King County Sheriff’s Office, things do get better. We can’t just complain and wait for others to “fix” everything.

Drug addiction and the drug trade are not about homelessness. In fact it’s been well-documented many times over that the homeless are most often victimized by drug dealers and users who steal from them and intimidate them.

Our local Interfaith Council on Homelessness deals every day with the Vashon homeless population as well as with the working poor who are desperately trying to stay in housing. We do not aid drug addicts or dealers, and we encourage people to report any suspicious activity to the sheriff’s office. Those who abuse or peddle drugs need to be dealt with by law enforcement. It shouldn’t be the job of the Vashon Park District.

When citizens reclaim their public spaces, these activates stop. I recall years of active involvement by the farmers market folks, the volunteers who planted and still tend the gardens, people who work in town and have their lunch there and those who organize dances and concerts there. When those things are going on, the park is ours.

I agree that we need to play an active role in keeping our public spaces safe. It’s also a good idea to look people in the face and find out who they are. Several of the guys who I see in the park are quiet individuals who want a safe place for themselves. Let’s not lump them in with those who sell or use illegal drugs.

— Emma Amiad

Park’s situation is unacceptable

I find it interesting that there are two totally different views of what is going on at the Village Green (“Concerns mount over Village Green,” March 24). If I am to believe Emma Amiad, who operates a 9 to 5 business across the street from the lovely park, the only thing missing is Edward Scissorhand’s delicate touch on the surrounding shrubbery. Then we have the property owners who are dealing with the park on a 24/7 basis, and according to all the evidence, they have a very, very valid and substantiated complaint. They also have a cost that is hidden to the rest of us — that of diminished property value. Shall we state openly that they have some skin in the game?

I believe that if you are homeless (with few exceptions) on Vashon Island, you view homelessness as a chosen lifestyle. There are limited job opportunities here, it is expensive, and you must cross the open water to search for work, if you are indeed interested in work. I also have no time for the drug life. I moved here 19 years ago because I want to go to the big city and not have it come to me. I have no interest in White Center, Burien, Auburn, Tacoma or the entire rural Snohomish County methamphetamine scene, for that matter. To have access to this lifestyle and the security it affords me, I work every day and I pay very dearly in the form of high property taxes.

The situation at Village Green is undeniable, unacceptable and needs to be cleaned up immediately.

— Peter Walker

Appearances can be deceiving; do not be quick to judge

I’m glad the Village Green has come up. I can feel the “wall” that exists between myself and some of the regular users when I walk by. Maybe they are breaking a rule (drug use, dogs, after hours) and fear my condemnation? Maybe I fear hostility and avoid eye contact? Maybe they are subconsciously hoping to have the space to themselves? Maybe I judge them by their appearance and assume the worst? I think this is a divide that is created by fear on both sides.  

We all know that appearances are deceiving. Sadly, an alcoholic wife beater could bring his kids to the park with their new puppy, and no one would look twice.

Thankfully, the residents around the Village Green are letting us know about some problems that do need to be addressed. Hard drug use is a big problem that deserves our highest attention. Rude public behaviors (obnoxious language, fist fights, sex acts in the bathroom, etc.) are clearly unacceptable, as well. And, after-hours use simply needs to stop. I truly honor these concerns. 

However, I strongly encourage all of us to differentiate between crime and stereotypes.

There are plenty of home-owning folks who may prefer to buy or use (and dispose of evidence) away from their lodgings. Let’s remember that appearance does not determine behavior.  

If we really want the Village Green to be a safe place, then more of us need to take the time to enjoy it. The more crowded the park, the more difficult it is to use illegal drugs, for example, although, I do hope the police monitor the park more closely after hours.  

There are plenty of animal-loving, vegetarian, pacifists who may “look” scary. Don’t judge a book by its cover!

— March Twisdale

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