June 25, 2008 · Updated 9:35 PM
"Over the last few weeks I have seen many letters published in concern about the Parks bond. A realization that the uninformed voter is the most dangerous to any community is slowly becoming evident.Like any homeowner on South Whidbey, my property taxes have also more than doubled in the past 10 years. But at that point I must draw the distinction and come to the realization that it was never the Parks or schools that doubled those bonds and levies, it was the assessed valuation of my property and structures which forced my taxes to more than double. And what are we really taking about in terms of real dollars? By the average assessed value of a home in the South Whidbey Parks District we are talking about $12.25 a year if your property is assessed at $175,000. Twelve dollars and two bits a year. Reg (Letters, Feb. 5), I know what you're thinking, you've made that perfectly clear. We're going to ask for just a little and then we'll be back for more the first chance we get. I can't promise that won't happen. But I can promise you one thing, Reg, that part about volunteer labor building those ball fields -- not only will it happen, it has already happened. And in the future if the bond does pass, and my wife wants to know where I'm going and who I'm with, I will be more than proud to add your name to the list of dedicated community volunteers who have chosen to give their time and labor for the youth of our community.A relative newcomer to the island, Mr. Schoenharl (Letters, Feb. 16) has brought up another more interesting and highly complex issue. Are these fields really needed? As president of the South Whidbey Youth Soccer Club, I hope to answer just that question. With over 900 young people signed up to participate in soccer last year, ours is by far the largest youth organization on the south end. Not only are there not enough fields for our kids, but the ones that are available are so overused that we are at times forced to close them for badly needed maintenance and repair. Not only is the soccer club forced to practice and play on undersized and under-maintained fields, we also must stand by and watch as baseball, softball and youth football programs are placed in the same predicament as us. The schools, are they doing their part? My qualifications in answering might be limited. Having only coached at the high school for five years my knowledge is somewhat limited, so forgive me if I miss someone. In an effort to save space I will limit myself to school field space and corresponding teams. With the high school fielding varsity and JV football teams and girls varsity and JV soccer teams, the middle school seventh and eighth grade football teams, along with seventh and eighth grade softball, the school fields are more than full for the fall seasons. In the spring we can find baseball and softball at the high school in full swing, along with track at the high school and middle school fields. And lest we forget those lads that I help coach, varsity and JV soccer. So, are the schools doing their part? Yes, I think so and then some.So can we all at least agree that field development is the real issue? As one of the main players in the soccer clubs field development committee, I know what it takes to make fields happen. Over the past three and a half years it has taken over 5,000 volunteer man hours of labor and an additional 500-plus man hours of paid labor for one field to come to fruition. Putting in irrigation systems in the evening after a hard day at work. Raking and shoveling rocks on the weekend so that some kid doesn't fall and cut open his knee. Spending every free minute (of family time) clearing a parking lot out of alders so that the family of these young athletes can watch them do their best. Field development isn't just a word to me; it's a calling. A calling to serve the youth of our community. To provide for every youngster the opportunity to be involved in an activity which allows him or her to learn teamwork, the desire to succeed, and good sportsmanship. It's not field development, it's the development of our future leaders.So what do we really need to accomplish these lofty goals? What is it that our future leaders need for us to do for them? Before the coaches can teach the lessons of sportsmanship, they need a field to play on. Before the volunteers can build the fields they need the land. That's all that's being asked for, the land. We know there's a price for everything, and is that pricing too high? At seven cents per thousand, the average homeowner will pay a little over 12 dollars a year; can we afford one dollar a month for our kids? Can we afford not to teach the lessons of life to our future leaders? It will take this entire community to help raise the leaders of tomorrow. Let's start that process on Feb. 29 by saying yes to the Parks bond. Say yes to the future of this community.John Jelinek is president of the South Whidbey Youth Soccer Club."