Opinion

Islanders want the library at Ober

By DOUGLAS DOLSTAD

For The Beachcomber

My family has lived on the Island since 1887. Four of the five generations have used the library. My grandparents, Kate and Paul C. Land used it when it was where the Senior Center is now. A lovely location and even more meaningful because of the bronze plaque commemorating the boys who died in World War II that was in the contemplative garden just outside the building.

My mother Enid Dolstad used the library frequently and enjoyed the location at Ober Park. I used to attend Vashon Allied Arts activities when the building was at Ober. My children, the fifth generation, use and love this site. Why? Because this site is particularly valuable for the confluence of generations that occur there. The way it brings crucial living elements of our community together.

It is like a watering hole in the African veld. An oasis of life. Here is where our elders can enjoy — at the perfect distance — our vital toddlers as they play energetically in the park accompanied by their young parents or grandparents — where there is ample room to stroll protected visually, symphonically and kinesthetically from the street. On the berms or in the safe valley of the grassy areas are the older elementary-aged kids engaged in a timeless game of tag. Sitting quietly on the berms are the teens who are playing their guitars, reading or looking at each other with eyes we all know as “young love” and that the elders remember fondly. 

Here is a mix and a chance for a timeless connection across the ages. 

This place holds memories for our community of so many activities and events: The Boy Scouts met here for decades, Vashon Allied Arts started here, there have been festivals, library events, political gatherings, memorials to the Vietnam Vets. Without such places of “shared stories,” a community is not a community at all. It is reduced to an economic entity. 

Every planner, an increasing number of physicians and all of us in our guts know a healthy community has places where there is a natural mixing of the generations. How our newspapers sound the alarm about the estrangement of our youth, the loneliness of the elders and the decay of family life! Yet here and now is a chance to support a wonderful and natural mixing of generations that contributes so much to the vitality of our home.

The people want the library at Ober Park. The recent survey so clearly shows that. I am hopeful my future grandchildren and beyond may enjoy the wise land use choices of those who understand and value what truly makes a place worth living in.

— Douglas Dolstad is a longtime Islander.

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