By Bill Pickard
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose … Losing always feels worse than winning, but sometimes it is better to recognize when continuing on may cause more damage than good. JT was right last night when he said that as soon as the discussion moved away from local control and focused on an aquatic reserve vs. a rowing course it changed the tenor of the debate. What he didn’t say, which I will say, is that the entire issue has become so politically toxic that there is no chance of a park prevailing, AND DNR’s antipathy toward rowing is driving the entire aquatic reserve process. My reading of the audience last night was that there were people who favored a park, people who were against rowing, and people who were against the aquatic reserve. However the majority of people there just wanted the lake to be left like it is, and wanted management decisions to be left to the community. No other facts matter, and no amount of information was going to change any minds. Having slept on it, I believe the right thing to do is to suspend any discussion of a park or rowing, and for me to go away. That leaves the field clear for cooler heads who want to guide the debate back to a discussion of local control vs. the aquatic reserve. I would hate for my legacy of involvement with the park initiative to be that the community is saddled with an aquatic reserve that appears to do nothing other than spend state money and layer on bureaucracy and the potential for meddling by DNR. I don’t see any of the benefits DNR claims – but I do see the potential for great mischief. The lake and its uplands can still – someday – be an awesome park. There are supporters out there with money who like the park concept, and ’no child left inside’, and inclusive/ADA friendly ideas in the proposal, and they will be disappointed. But they don’t live in your community, so for now this idea needs to just fade away. All the concepts are still in the Graham Community Plan. The trick – as always – will be finding a way to fund their development and maintenance. With a new commissioner and a new local champion of local ideas, things can be different. I wish the outcome could be different, but it is what it is. For the Pierce County community to realize the best result, the debate should now focus on a choice between an aquatic reserve and local control. So THIS losing candidate concedes and throws his support behind local control.
As always, there is nothing more difficult to carry out nor more doubtful of success than to initiate a new order of things. The young constituents who would benefit the most from a park weren’t represented last night. If the aquatic reserve can be stopped, then the community will have the right to come back in the future with a locally conceived and executed concept to preserve the uplands in a park, provide access for all, and the other elements in the Graham Community Plan. It may take many years – but at least without an aquatic reserve the possibility will remain. All those economic, educational, health, social, public safety, and environmental benefits from the park proposal will remain, and in a few years there will be more people (and a lot more children) living in the area who may like the idea of a park with water-dependent activities sufficiently to get it done.
So thank you all for your consideration and your support. I am glad to have met you. I never would have gotten this far without you.