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Park, recreation vote will be on fall ballot

Big hurdle cleared

Another big hurdle has been cleared by the Mount Adams Park & Recreation District Formation Committee.

On June 8, the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously (3-0) to authorize the Mount Adams Parks & Recreation District to place a measure on the November general election ballot allowing area voters to decide, "Yes" or "No," whether a park and recreation district should be created.

Klickitat County Commissioner Rex Johnston said he believed it was the right course to take.

"Supporters came in with all the signatures needed to get it on the ballot," Johnston explained. "If you have the signatures, it's a no-brainer. I suppose we could have balked at something, but why. We are great believers in leaving it up to the voters."

The proposed park and recreation district would cover a wide area that includes Klickitat County communities White Salmon, Bingen, Trout Lake, Glenwood, Dallesport, Lyle, Husum, BZ Corner, Snowden, Appleton, and Klickitat, along with Underwood in Skamania County.

Dana Scheffler, chair of the Mount Adams Park & Recreation District Formation Committee, said the coordinators of the effort are enthused by the county's decision.

"We're excited," Scheffler said. "It's great news. A lot of people have ben working hard on this, and it's coming together."

Scheffler pointed out, however, that although the measure is now assured of being on the Klickitat County general election ballot, the Skamania County Board of Commissioners still needs to decide about placing it on the ballot for those living in the Skamania County portion (Underwood and the Northwestern Lake area) of the projected district.

Skamania's commissioners will hold a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. on July 13 at the Underwood Community Center to discuss the concept.

Scheffler said he is optimistic the Skamania County Commissioners will also vote to place the question on the ballot.

"We expect strong support there, based on the experience of petition gatherers in that area," Scheffler said.

Assuming the commissioners do approve it, Scheffler noted that the campaign is far from over.

"After that, we'll have our sights squarely set on two main goals: getting five park and rec commissioners to run, and getting the word out to folks and inform them as much as possible what the benefits are to creating the district," he explained. "It will be a long summer of hard work getting the word out to folks."

A special three-day filing period for the five positions on the Mount Adams Park & Recreation District board will be set later in the summer.

Johnston said he heard from constituents on both sides of the issue, but in the end believes the will of the majority of voters within the boundaries of the proposed district should decide whether the district is formed.

"If they want to vote that in and pay the taxes for it, who are we to stand in the way?" he said. "It will be interesting to see how people react to this. It'll go before the voters, and they will either vote for it or against it. We'll see what happens."

Johnston added that he has not decided yet how he will vote on the measure in November.

"Voting as a commissioner and for me personally are two different things. As a commissioner, I have to consider both sides of the issue," he explained. "I'm still thinking about it."


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