Opinion

Editorial: Support parks for a change

The money keeps rolling in to the state coffers. An unexpected $600 million was quickly spent before the Legislature adjourned this spring and now they say an extra $400 million will be raked in this year due to the strengthening economy. What’s a hard-spending state Legislature to do with all this extra cash?

Well, how about ignoring the special interests for once and doing something for the people of the State of Washington: Restore full funding to the Washington State Parks system. Ax that annoying and pathetic $5 per day fee for the privilege of parking a car in our own state parks.

Father’s Day was marked on Whidbey Island by a single family, the Hainses, that donated a full day of parking space revenue so the people could enjoy Deception Pass State Park, a favorite destination of the late Art Haines. It was a generous gesture, well appreciated by many, but it’s also embarrassing that our most popular state park has to be opened to all by a single family.

Come on, Legislature, you’ve got the money.

Paid parking greatly annoys taxpayers, results in dangerous traffic situations as people try to avoid the fee by parking along the roads, and puts park employees who have better things to do than act as meter maids in an unfavorable light. The revenue generated isn’t nearly worth the hassle or the decline in park usage that has occurred over the past few years since the parking fee was adopted. Who can put a price tag on family picnics that weren’t held, or sunsets that weren’t watched?

Our Washington State Parks are precious but have been ignored too long by the Legislature. Facilities need upgrading and more parkland needs to be acquired. Legislators constantly adopt policies to spur growth but refuse to adequately fund parks and other facilities that will keep out state a nice place to call home.

It’s time to hold our local 10th District legislators accountable. Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen and Reps. Barbara Bailey and Chris Strow live in a county with six beautiful state parks. Do us a favor and get rid of that unconscionable $5 parking fee. It might even get you re-elected.

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