Letters to the Editor: Dec. 24


Islanders are being ignored

Regarding the King County Library System’s treatment of communications about the site selection process for a new library (“Library Games,” The Beachcomber, Dec. 17), the Vashon Park District is not the only Island organization whose views are being ignored. This fall, the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council’s land use committee began preparations to sponsor a town hall forum to discuss library issues, including site location. The intent was to provide an opportunity for input from Islanders, with representatives of both the park district and the library system attending. The planned date was Dec. 4.

Melodie Woods, the land use committee chair, contacted Kay Johnson at KCLS to invite a representative to attend. Melodie was told that due to a previously scheduled dedication, no members of the KCLS board would be available on Dec. 4.

When Melodie inquired about other possible dates, Johnson advised her that any public meeting would be premature. She also said a possible move would be a two- to three-year project and a public meeting would be held at the appropriate time. Due to the library system’s unwillingness to participate, the forum was cancelled.

Now we learn that a purchase and sale agreement for the K2 machine shop, a binding legal contract, may be executed within days. It is clear to me that KCLS has no intention of giving the community any voice in site selection for the library. However, they promise to hold a public meeting in the future. For what purpose?

As another Islander recently observed, maybe they are going to let us choose the color for the carpets.

— Bill Tobin

Motel development

Businesses may benefit

The recent settlement between Water District 19 and the Federal Way developer, Dan McClary, is very good news for Island businesses.

I was moved by Mr. McClary’s persistence in working to build a hotel/motel on the Island. I know in my heart that a developer with this level of commitment to Vashon Island will:

Use Island Lumber & Hardware for the project’s building supplies;

Use ACE drywall;

Hire “work eligible” laborers and pay a competitive, livable wage to all;

Furnish all rooms with furniture from Robinson Furniture and Granny’s Attic;

Purchase all hardware supplies from True Value;

Feature Island artist and craftspeople in all rooms, lobbies, and landscaping;

Use local caterers and restaurants for all seminars and conferences, and encourage hotel/motel clients to do the same;

Contract with Island bed and breakfasts to handle booking overflow; and

Advertise all local events (First Friday, garden tours, Strawberry Festival, art tours, etc.) and provide transportation and day tours for clients in support of these events.

In light of the current economic downturn, many Island businesses would be happy, as Dan McClary stated for himself, to get their lives back together.

While this listing is certainly not all-inclusive, I think you see where I am going with this.

— Lois Watkins

School bond

Kudos to board

Is there anybody who does not believe that education is the paramount reason to raise and spend tax dollars? There might be some competitors for first place, such as national defense, but in my mind education is number one.

Hats off to the school board for launching a bond issue vote to replace our tired and worn-out high school. You did the right thing. I will be voting yes.

Moreover, it’s the perfect time to do this. “What?” you say. “We’re in a deep financial crisis; how can we do this now?”

There are very practical reasons; for instance, we can put people to work building it; we can get it done cheaper because money and materials are cheaper.

But there is an overarching reason to move now. Doing this project now lifts our spirits and fills our heads with positive thoughts, and from positive thoughts come ideas and learning and hope and happiness and values.

Imagine our teens racing down a clean modern hallway that feels and is good. Those who do not want this or that aspect of the plan might want to examine things though the eyes of others. Those who feel that we can’t afford it will always feel we can’t afford it. Those who feel some societal segment cannot afford it and therefore the community is somehow losing out while the school district wins suffer from some sort of existential dread I can’t understand. But they always will; it can’t be fixed.

I’ll bet if we ask some extremely poor person in some third world country what they thought of our plan, they would go nuts with praise and would be unable to imagine how we could think we can’t afford it or that even some cannot afford it.

— Don Munro

It’s not the right time

The school board’s idea of increasing property taxes for local homeowners to pay for improvements to the local high school is ill-considered. Four years ago we were not in the worst recession since the 1930s. On this Island we have property owners hanging by their fingernails hoping to keep their homes; we have recent widows living on limited pensions and Social Security, worrying whether or not they will be able to keep a home they’ve lived in for 30 years. Property taxes are already set to increase next year based on revised assessed values; for this community to try to push them up even higher in this financial crisis is insensitive at best. We should bypass the appeal to sentimentality (“It’s for the kids”) and think about what’s good for everyone in the community.

Last week’s Beachcomber quoted Bob Hennessey saying, “Vashon kids shouldn’t necessarily have the best schools in the region … nor should they have the worst.”

Vashon schools are wonderful schools, filled with competent and caring certified and classified teachers. Classified substitute teachers earn the same amount of money per hour as the high school lifeguards at the local athletic club. Certified substitute teachers earn $10 to $40 less per day than mainland substitute teachers. Our children are being taught by everyone with whom they interact with at school, regardless of that person’s qualifications.

Education takes place during a dialogue between two minds. Let’s put community money into supporting teachers instead of buildings and sports fields. Structural improvements may be needed, but not at this time of financial crisis. It’s akin to asking property owners to pick up an iron skillet and offer to bash themselves over the head!

— Ellen Carleton