Letters to the editor

March 6, 2009

By Contributor

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YMCA a safe haven for teens

You are already aware that in the Greater Seattle area, the YMCA does things like provide swimming lessons and child care. You may even know it can furnish a safe place for a teen in need of guidance. But the organization does this and so much more for more than 100,000 children and teens, that it can be hard to explain its real value to the community.

That’s why in February more than 1,500 of your friends, neighbors and business associates volunteered their time to tell the YMCA story to 12,000 people in the greater Seattle area. 

The “Partners With Youth Campaign” is one of the region’s largest adult leadership efforts. In addition to raising awareness, campaign volunteers are asking for pledges to support the YMCA’s important work with children and teens. 

The Lake Heights Family YMCA’s goal is to raise $230,000 to fund financial assistance for school-aged, preschool and summer programs that build strong children, strong families and strong communities.

I agreed to chair the Lake Heights campaign this year for a simple reason. I have talked to children, teens and parents who have benefited from YMCA services. I know that Partners With Youth funds help point children in the right direction and give them a lift back up when they need it. 

If you would like to know more about your YMCA, the door is open to all. Please call Jaime Greene, director of business and membership, at 644-8417.

Tracey DiRamio

2009 campaign chairwoman

Lake Heights Family YMCA


City’s rebranding is expensive and undemocratic

Branding is a good idea. But changing Newcastle’s existing brand — city logo, colors, sign standards — to an inferior one doesn’t make sense. Especially for a city facing declining revenues, tax increases, park closings and cuts to basic services.

Rebranding is an expensive luxury: It involves repainting vehicles, redoing existing park and trail signs, changing stationery and so on. And until we redo everything, we’ll have a hodgepodge — no branding at all. Worse yet, the vote for rebranding — by council members Jean Garber, Dan Hubbell, Sonny Putter and Ben Varon — implicitly endorses a retreat from the democratic process and fair dealing.

Newcastle’s existing logo was created by a local artist, Jane Kozlovsky, and chosen by a public vote. The existing standards for park and trail signs (and the color maroon) were chosen by a unanimous vote of the City Council. In every case, there was a choice of alternatives and extensive public participation. 

In 2004-2005, the Parks Commission worked for several months on park signs (including interpretive and historical signs) and held a well-advertised (and well-attended) public open house, with mock-ups of alternative signs. Commissioners asked for, but didn’t get, technical support. And the council voted funding for new park signs, which were never installed.

The new standard had minimal public process: The consultant worked with city officials, not the public; there was no gathering of public input, no open house and no vote by citizens; no choice of logo or color; no sign alternatives. Public notices were too little and too late.

As for fair dealing: When citizens invest precious personal hours in a public process, there’s a tacit promise their efforts will be supported and not wasted. In the 2004-2005 park sign process, that promise was broken.

Finally, the new standard has many problems. (See comments on the city blog.) For example, chartreuse is too intrusive for park and trail signs; it’s a warning color (used on emergency vehicles and crosswalk signs). For street signs, drivers expect green, and white-on-green is more readable.

The council should poll the public before continuing this project.

Garry Kampen


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