hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Monday, July 11, 2011

What Do We Need?

There are a series of questions that are facing us as a community here in tiny Point Roberts, and the questions got harder over the past few weeks. It is difficult in any small place with a small tax base to deal with infrastructure. How much the harder here when the size of the community changes dramatically over the year and when most of the property tax payers aren't voters and when there is very limited control over how money can be raised or used.

The biggest issue at the moment is the Community Center, a heavily used, elderly building in big trouble. There is standing water under the building, wood rot resulting therefrom, and roof damage. There is no money to pay for these repairs. This is not a matter of long term infrastructure improvement and investment. This is a "needs to be done right away or we won't be having any Community Center" kind of issue.

So, the Parks Board is considering proposing a specific tax levy to cover these repair costs. There is worry that the voters will not approve this request, given that last fall the Fire Department had a substantial levy approved. Of course, money for the Fire Department upgrade will do nothing for the Community Center. But this is what comes of tiny government arrangements in which overall needs are not coordinated and priorities among various needs are not able to be considered.

The Parks Board can lead us voters and residents to water but it cannot make us drink or perhaps even convince us that we are thirsty. We need to think about this seriously. Do we need quick repair or an entire re-building? There has been previous talk about the need for more library space. Should we be thinking about that possibility too?

We are in a difficult economic and political time right now. Many people are happy to "just say no" to any public expenditures, but this is our home, our town, that is at issue. The question of the Lily Point Beach Club development and of the removal of the maples in the APA canopy brought out a lot of public concern. We need to be just as concerned about the future of the Community Center. But I don't know how that concern is going to find a focus for a thoughtful discussion that addresses both short term needs and long-term community wellbeing.

I'm thinking we need to have a series of town meetings to get us all up to speed on the various issues. The drastic problems at the Community Center may be exactly what we need to focus our attention on this issue. But it will be a struggle to awaken us from our customary lack of involvement.

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