Opinion

Sound off: Time to pay attention to stadium bond issue

By Barney Beeksma

Allow me to give you a little more history on the stadium bond issue. I attended Oak Harbor schools, graduating in the class of 1950, 55 years ago. While I was in high school, Memorial Stadium was completed with lighting for night games. It was named for those who had given their lives in WWII fighting for and preserving our freedom.

The grade school in existence then has long since been demolished and every elementary school we now have has been built since that time. The high school I attended was later condemned and was vacant for years, and was finally completely rebuilt for current use.

Since 1950, we have built two completely new high school buildings and a new middle school building. During all of that time, we have done little to improve Memorial Stadium except add some now inadequate locker and rest- room facilities. It is abundantly clear that ALL of the capital expenditures for our schools have been to improve educational facilities. Now we are the proud owners of a sports complex which is not only substandard but the poorest in the Northwest.

Unfortunately, the state of our sports facilities is visible to the public much more so that the educational facilities. It creates the impression that Oak Harbor does not care about its school system — an impression that gives visitors and newcomers a feeling that our school system is substandard. Is this what we want? I think not. One of the important considerations in determining the future of NAS Whidbey is the quality of our school system.

It is long past time to have enough pride in our school system to rebuild the sports facilities. This project has been put on a separate bond issue to minimize its cost to taxpayers and get a solid majority of support. The cost for this bond issue is about the same as the recently approved bond for the pool. While the pool is important, a rebuilt Memorial Stadium will affect and benefit far more people than the pool. And since there will be a reduction in current tax rates for our school concurrent with this bond issue, the net cost to us as taxpayers is a NET OF 2 CENTS per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Can any of us not afford that?

Many of us have made an initial contribution far in excess of the tax we will pay to go toward the cost of renovating Memorial Stadium. This is an unprecedented approach to funding and evidence of the critical need many of us feel for such an improvement. I commend the Rotary Club for their vision and efforts to insure support and passage of this measure. Please join my wife and me in voting YES and show the world we support and value our school system and community.

Oak Harbor resident Barney Beeksma is a retired banker.

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