Here in Washington County we have a jewel of a recreational resource called Metzger Park. It is a 7-acre fully accessible park nestled in a forested environment featuring mature Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir trees.

Any given day you can see children playing on the swings and play structure. There are tennis courts and a meeting hall that was available to rent for activities such as weddings or use as a meeting hall.

That’s the problem. Patricia D. Whiting Hall is now closed to revenue-generating activities, open only for Metzger Park Advisory Board meetings, Citizen Participation Organization 4-M meetings and Sunday church services.

There is a relatively new hire for Washington County who is in charge of Metzger Park. The Metzger Park Advisory Board has not received financial reports for seven months, and meetings were canceled for October, November and December 2013.

It was announced there is no (zero) money available for grounds maintenance. Private citizens are taking it upon themselves to do grounds clean up on their own time. Especially after the snowstorm and winter weather, there is a lot of debris.

The “Rangers” are contributing 20 hours per week for maintenance of the park. Who are they? A division of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office?

I am confused. Metzger Park is supported independently by taxpayer dollars in a Local Improvement District. If the claim is there is no money for maintenance, does it make sense to close the facility that generates revenue? And where is the district money going?

Because we have dedicated taxpayer dollars for Metzger Park, those monies should be used for Metzger Park only, and no other Washington County facility like Hagg Lake, for example.

The financial reports not available to the Metzger Park Advisory Board should be published. We have the right to know where our monies are being spent.

Why is the park virtually shut down? The grounds have always been beautifully maintained, and the meeting hall brimming with rental activity. It doesn’t make sense there’s no money for maintenance.

It is time to create a nonprofit 501(3)(c) organization to manage Metzger Park.

For government agents to withhold documents that should rightfully be published is improper. To take an important recreational facility and virtually shut it down when it was once thriving will encourage vandalism, drug activity and degradation.

We need leaders to enhance our community, not defile it and shutter an important community resource.

Jill Warren is a Metzger resident.

Contract Publishing

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