Editorial: Park’s future in jeopardy
November 16, 2011
More facts about negotiations between the City of Craig and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 need to come to light. Regardless of what has happened between the entities in the past, though, it’s time to move forward and do what’s best to protect a valuable community asset.
Negotiations between the City of Craig and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 erupted recently, leaving unanswered questions in the wake.
The most important question concerns the future of the contested property: a 2.88-acre parcel of land called Veterans Park, but more commonly known as the south end of Craig City Park.
This parcel may seem comparatively small, but it plays a big role in Craig's public life. It hosts important community events such as Whittle the Wood Rendezvous, not to mention residents and visitors throughout the year.
The VFW has leased this property to the city for 60 years, but the expiration of the lease in 2009 — or, more specifically, the actions of representatives on both sides of the argument — has led to threats from the VFW to shut the park down to the public.
This cannot happen. The park is too important to become a casualty in a war of harsh words and hurt feelings.
Yes, other questions still remain, and they warrant answers.
What happened during negotiations, which only recently went public, that soured the relationship between the city and the VFW?
Did VFW officials have an asking price for the property, and if so, what was it?
The Craig Daily Press wants to know these answers and will work to find them.
In the meantime, the Editorial Board can't fault the city for offering to buy the park for its appraised value of $25,500. If city councilors would have offered any more than that, they would have caught flack, and rightly so, for misusing taxpayer dollars.
Yet we see the VFW's point, too. Councilor Byron Willems' comments at a Nov. 8 city council meeting didn't foster a spirit of cooperation, to say the least.
In the end, though, all these details take a back seat to that one, looming question: What will happen to the park now?
The answer depends on how much VFW officials and city councilors are willing to put their own feelings aside and work together to find a solution.
Both parties have a vested interest in keeping the park open. It will allow the city to keep Whittle the Wood in its traditional spot, for one thing, and the VFW post can benefit from its visible location next to a popular public gathering place.
Ultimately, however, the implications of their decision will go far beyond either the VFW or the city. They will be felt by the many families and individuals who use the park, whether it be for picnics, an afternoon on the playground or shooting some hoops.
City and VFW officials need to put their feelings aside and hash out a solution. The community depends on it.
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