Supporters of a move to create a regional parks and recreation district say they remain on track to place the question before voters in November.
According to Dana Scheffler, one of the organizers of the proposed "Mount Adams Parks & Recreation District," the petition-gathering process is moving forward effectively. But the group is taking nothing for granted.
"As of last Thursday, we had about 850 signatures confirmed with another 100 estimated to be on petitions that were still circulating," Scheffler explained. "We are going to use April 1 as a benchmark and see where we are with the number of signatures."
Scheffler said the group expects to set a final collection date for mid-April -- "depending on our assessment of the success of the drive and how well we have covered the district," he added.
The proposed district would include a number of communities in western Klickitat County -- Bingen, White Salmon, Glenwood, Klickitat, Husum, BZ Corner, Lyle, Snowden, Appleton, Trout Lake, and Dallesport. The community of Underwood, in Skamania County, is also within the district.
The district would provide an organizational framework that would facilitate the building of a new swimming pool/aquatic center in the White Salmon area. The district would also provide for after-school youth programs, adult community education endeavors, and encompass recreational activities such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, skiing, maintenance of trails and bike lanes, community gardens, and the like.
"Approximately 90 years ago, our forefathers established a swimming pool in this area, which has served to bring swimming education, water safety, and summer recreation to the youth and adults of the greater Mount Adams area," said Bill Ward, one of the organizers of the parks and recreation effort. "The pool has served well and has undoubtedly saved lives. The time has now arrived to plan for the next many years of service by developing a new aquatic facility that will truly be a part of the entire district."
Ward pointed out that formation of the district would allow the governing body to reach out for grants and contributions to construct the pool and cover ongoing operations and maintenance expenses.
To get the proposed parks and recreation district on the ballot, organizers need the signatures of at least 15 percent of the registered voters living within the district. Once that hurdle is crossed, the issue will be placed on an election ballot for voters to decide on -- Yes or No to forming the district.
Organizers are planning to get the measure on the general election ballot in November of this year.
The group wants a minimum of 1,400 signatures, so there is work yet to do.
"For people living in Glenwood, Klickitat, and Dallesport, we are looking for more individuals who want to circulate petitions among friends and neighbors in those towns," Scheffler said. "In Underwood, we want to encourage folks to send in the post cards regarding the district that they received from Skamania County officials. It seems that some people have been confused as to signing the petitions versus sending in the post cards. Basically, they need to do both if they want to have the chance to vote on it."
Scheffler also announced that petitions are now available for people to sign at several new sites -- the Big River Diner in Bingen, Pro-Active in White Salmon, the Country Kitchen in Lyle, the Lyle Merc, and the Lyle Hotel & Restaurant.
"We are very happy to see that 900 or so people have come forward in the last two or three weeks to say they want to see this on the ballot," Scheffler explained. "It makes the last 12 months of work worth it."