Opinion

City, park district should collaborate, not quarrel | Opinion | June 4

During a recent City Council meeting, Mayor Bob Scales objected to the city transferring the Fort Ward Parade Grounds – and, essentially, other parks included in a joint agreement – to the island’s Metro Park and Recreation District without getting something in turn, primarily a fee or other considerations. As a result, the previous agreement between the two appeared to be in jeopardy.

They agreed last year that the city would transfer ownership of most of its many parks to the district. It made sense, especially when considering the city’s dire financial situation and the fact that voters established the district for the purpose of operating parks on an island with dozens of them. But why this disconnect between two taxing agencies that need to work together for the good of their constituents?

Unfortunately, the relationship between the two has been strained for one reason or another in recent years. Ironically, Scales’ pronouncement appears to have at last raised the need for the agencies to reconsider their relationship. The district didn’t publicly respond to Scales’ statement during a meeting last week. But Scales said during Wednesday’s council session that the two should “step back and take a broader look at things we both are involved in.”

He also suggested that city and parks should have “a joint discussion” on issues where the two intersect and have their elected officials and staff involved in a more collaborative effort. We would have hoped that such cooperation was already occurring, but better late than never. There were some communications occurring between the city and park administrators involving the agreement, but the playing field has changed with Scales and two other new council members this year.

Some members of the council suggested that the “agreement” be revisited, which is not a bad idea. But there’s no doubt that the district, not the city, is the agency most capable and financially prepared to be running the island’s parks.

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