Opinion

Dial *their* legislators for Pritchard Park

The usual mantra is “call your legislators.” Today, we urge you to call everyone else’s legislators instead.

The subject: Pritchard Park (formerly known as the Wyckoff site) on the south shore of Eagle Harbor, and the Japanese-American memorial planned for the Taylor Avenue road end, where 227 islanders of Japanese descent were removed from the island during World War II.

Somewhat overlooked amid the high-profile battling over transportation and general operating revenues, the state legislature must also establish a capital budget for the next two years. Spearheaded by Mike Ryherd, a professional lobbyist who is taking on this project for the love of it, islanders are seeking some state support towards those two projects.

As reported elsewhere in this issue, negotiators are in the process of reconciling the House capital budget, where Reps. Phil Rockefeller and Beverly Woods included a $2 million appropriation, with the Senate budget, where Betti Sheldon at least got the item into the budget, albeit at the $200,000 level. The reconciliation process not only involves its own share of horse-trading, but the larger operating budget has to be decided first; capital projects could be traded for items on operations wish-lists.

Our own legislators have done what they can. What needs to happen now is to persuade lawmakers from elsewhere that the cause not only has merit, but that it has regional or statewide, and not merely parochial, appeal.

The case should be easy to make. The World War II exclusion may have started on Bainbridge Island, but it didn’t end there, and encompassed Japanese-Americans in all of western Washington. The memorial may honor islanders in name, but it will honor all in spirit.

Nor is the 50-plus acre park property, parts of which are undergoing cleanup as part of the national Superfund program, going to be an exclusively island playground, much as we may wish it were otherwise. Fortuitously protected from development by post-cleanup restrictions imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, the hundreds of feet of restored beach will attract users from throughout the Puget Sound area. The attraction will only grow in years ahead when the point – the peninsula of land that extends into the southwest corner of Eagle Harbor – is open to the public. With its waterside location and 270-degree view of Mt. Rainier, the central Cascades and the Olympics, it is a quintessential Northwest postcard.

So now is the time to call, write or email any state legislator you can. A particularly useful contact might be Erik Poulson, a West Seattle Democrat, who is one of the Senate negotiators.

Tell them that Pritchard Park and the Japanese-American memorial aren’t just for us. They’re for their constituents too.

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