Letters to the Editor

Park district shouldn’t accept state parks | Letters, July 17

The Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park and Recreation District should push the brake pedal on assuming the substantial expense and responsibility of managing Fort Ward and Fay Bainbridge state parks. In fact, our park board would be wise to set the parking brake for the next two years.

The new state park budget that went into effect on July 1 requires these two state parks to remain open through 2011 while the new vehicle license tab’s $5 parks donation is implemented. Let’s see if this new program works before we rush in with our local checkbook to rescue the state from its responsibilities.

Fort Ward has been a state park for 65 years and Fay Bainbridge for nearly 50 years. There’ve been many state park funding crises over the past decades, and the state has always kept these parks open.

Island voters did not approve the recent lid lift for our park district to spend our money to bail out the state from taking care of Washington’s wonderful state parks. Plus, we’re in the process right now of transferring upwards of 25 City of Bainbridge Island properties to our park district at the same time we’re soliciting nominations from Bainbridge residents to purchase new parks.

My 30 years of experience in running two of the largest state park systems in America – as chief of operations for California State Parks and director of Alaska State Parks – lead me to recommend that the Bainbridge park district use its limited funds only for our local park system, which is poised to substantially grow in the next several months.

Neil Johannsen

Winslow

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