Letter: SW Parks District broke promises in building trails

Editor,

In 2008, the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District opened Trustland Trails Park. They published the Trustland Trails Park Management Plan. The 2008 plan promises, among other things, that SWPRD will never develop trails that come “within sight” of TTP neighbors’ property.

In 2017, SWPRD began development of a new trail in TTP within 15 feet of one neighboring property and 10 feet of another. When neighbors complained about this, SWPRD halted construction, admitted they made a mistake and apologized. This was reported in The Record on Jan. 20, 2018.

Later in 2018, however, parks officials finished the trail they started in 2017. They ignored further protests from local citizens. They also ignored an alternate trail plan that neighbors on the east side of TTP jointly submitted as a compromise.

In 2018, parks also wrote a new park management plan. That plan negates everything in the 2008 plan. The 2008 plan is no longer available online, as if it never existed.

In August 2019, parks proposed another new TTP trail to come within 20-30 feet of my property. I opposed the new trail, as did many other locals. Nonetheless, parks has almost completed construction of this new trail.

My forest property is a private wildlife refuge. I walk my trails almost every day, usually with dogs. If you, as a park user, do not like something you see or hear coming from my land, do not complain to me. Ask SWPRD why, with 160 acres of TTP forest, they broke their promise and put trails within sight of neighboring properties?

The parks district has shown the community the same disrespect as giving an extended middle digit. TTP is a public park owned by all who live here. When government ignores the citizens, as the district has done repeatedly, they are looking the people in the eye and flipping us off.

While SWPRD has no respect for me, I ask TTP visitors to respect my privacy. Please do not trespass onto my land.

Unfortunately, I have little reason to hope that park users will respect my privacy. Though the folks at SWPRD are acting like the pigs in “Animal Farm,” the district is not part of Stalin’s Soviet Union that Orwell satirized in his novel. This is South Whidbey, where we supposedly have a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” If Lincoln’s words are true, they should certainly be true at a local level. How our local leaders behave is a reflection of ourselves as a community. What we tolerate from our local government is what we condone and embrace. What we condone and embrace is who we are. I am ashamed of us. We should be better than this.

Richard Panzer

Langley

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