Letters to the editor
October 7, 2008
The time is right to buy the May Creek entrance parcel
While neighboring cities have been busy expanding their parks, trails and open space, Newcastle has allowed trails to close and parks to shrink. Now, at long last, Newcastle has a grant to buy parkland — and council members Jean Garber and Sonny Putter want to give it back. If they succeed, we’ll lose the Entrance Parcel, a 1.16-acre tract that includes the main entrance to May Creek Park and the first segment of the May Creek Trail. And granting agencies will get the message: Avoid Newcastle; it’s not a reliable partner.
This part of the May Creek Trail is special. It follows the route of the historic Seattle and Walla Walla Railroad, and that first segment is a railroad cut, now leafy green tunnel through the woods. It’s the missing link in a broad, flat multiuse trail all the way from Lake Boren Park (via the Waterline Trail) to Windtree.
Other cities cherish their rail-trails; they add landscaping and sculpture, put up historical signs and publicize them nationally.
As reported in the Sept. 5 Newcastle News, the council voted Aug. 19 to go forward with the purchase — but it could still be derailed. Garber opposed the purchase, arguing that the crossing at 89th Place (where the Waterline Trail enters the park) was dangerous.
That was a shock: After the original 6-1 vote to buy the parcel, Garber walked the site with Newcastle Trails members and the city manager. There was no crossing problem then nor during site visits by the Trust for Public Land and Conservation Futures.
Garber says we can’t afford it. But the city’s 2008 budget includes $131,000 for the purchase; the grant provides $112,000; and the city’s actual share may be closer to $100,000. Moreover, another granting agency has required the city to set aside $180,000 to compensate for parkland given up for a retention pond.
I’d give priority to parkland over a $6 million city hall. We can always build, but parkland is disappearing.
Bob Baker will make a real difference in the Legislature
Meet Bob Baker — a Mercer Island resident and 41st District Republican candidate for state senate. Bob, a native of Indiana, graduated from Purdue University with a degree in computer science. He spent 21 years in the Navy and retired with the rank of commander. He was a fighter pilot and graduated with distinction from naval test pilot school. While working with the Pentagon as a project manager, he managed multimillion-dollar budgets. For the past 12 years, Bob’s been a captain, flying for Alaska Airlines.
Let me assure you — he is an honest, ethical, hard working family man you can trust.
Bob’s active in the community, on the board of the Family Policy Institute of Washington; Committee Chairman for the National Pilots Union; Rotary member; Senior Services volunteer; Eastside Transportation Association member; and chamber of commerce plus Mercer Island PTA volunteer. Bob and his wife Robin are happily married and live on Mercer Island with their children.
Bob is concerned about the tax-and-spend mentality that permeates Olympia. With a Democrat governor and the Democrats in control of both parts of the Legislature, state spending has increased by more than 33 percent in just four years. In 2005, taxes were increased by $400 million to cover added spending. Bob and Dino Rossi have a 10-point plan to decrease traffic congestion by building more roads and using transit.
We have a chance to make a real difference. For four years, the state senate seat has been in Democrat hands, but with incumbent Brian Weinstein not running again, we have the chance to put our district back in the Republican column. Let’s do it.