Letters to the Editor

Parking at parks: State could live without $5 fee

I was enjoying my Saturday morning mountain grown coffee and reading the March 6 issue of the Whidbey News-Times when I came across an article regarding the state parks user fee. When the writer mentioned that for a $5 user fee, one can enjoy a whole day at a Washington State Park, my coffee suddenly turned into a tasty cold beer, which I hate even the smell of it. I don’t drink beer. I would rather spend $5 for a couple of canned goods and donate it to Help House to help the needy, or a bag of popcorn or spend it for part of a day in a state park.

I wholeheartedly agree with the writer that for a $5 fee one can go to any state park and enjoy the beauty of nature. Yes, I will be more than willing to pay even $20, if I was an infrequent visitor to the parks. But it seems to me that the writer goes to a state park once in a blue moon; if in fact, there’s a blue moon. Evidently, that’s the cause of the writer’s dilemma.

As a retiree and a senior citizen with a fixed income, I spend most of my remaining years outdoors, and one of my favorite places to spend those remaining years are at Washington’s State Parks, particularly at Cornet Bay or at Cranberry Lake during the summer and winter. I know there are those who silently complain about the imposed $5 state park user fee, but they are so naive that they would rather keep their complaints to themselves. I’m speaking for the silent majority.

During a meeting sponsored by the League of Women voters, I had the opportunity to speak before the panel of three lawmakers in the presence of those beautiful young ladies, a few in their late forties. During the five minutes I was allowed to speak, I mentionedthat when my seven children were much younger, I took the whole family to Cornet Bay or to West Beach. We turned them loose at the beach while my wife and I watched the beautiful sunset and the bald eagles flying while searching for food. We didn’t have to worry about the $5 parking fee.

I also mentioned that if the state can afford to hire people to watch boaters come and go at launching ramps, while sitting in a government vehicle and reading magazines; hire people to measure even the smallest fish for research purposes; purchase a $10,000 high-tech machine to collect a $5 parking fee, I am pretty sure, the law makers can find some money to pay the dedicated, hard working park rangers a few summer help to maintain the state parks.

During this polical year, politicians without a shadow of a doubt in my mind can find money to make good their promises to their constituents. If the state can afford to purchase several vehicles for the state parks being operated by a handful of park rangers, I’m sure it can adjust the budget, find money to hire more rangers and park maintenance people, and do away with the $5 user fee.

Bert Letrondo, Sr.

Oak Harbor

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