When Barry County voters go to the polls Tuesday, November 6, 2007, they will be faced with a simple question: Should Charlton Park remain open?
Now, some will muddy the waters and insist that it's about accounting or oversight or budgets or taxes or whatever their particular grudge/issue, but those people are still concerned about the "sins of the father" rather than what faces us now. They obsess about what went wrong in the past, aren't contributing to fixing the problems now, and have no vision of the future.
You see, it's very simple: no matter what you think about what went on at the park before or what will happen in the future, all that stuff is irrelevant when you go to vote Tuesday. If you vote "no" then the park closes and it doesn't matter how much you are for the park while being against the who, how and when of everything to do with the park. You aren't voting "no" to protest the failures of the past, you're voting to close a valuable asset that hasn't been used to its potential in the past but is on the road to get there NOW thanks to the hard work and dedication of many volunteers. With no other means of remaining open, a "no" vote would assure the end of a unique treasure that is finally on the road to being what many of us think it could be.
The "no" voters seem intent, willing, and able to deny the vast change in the direction of the park in the last year. Of course, the park isn't "fixed" yet, but the "no" voters haven't helped by sitting at the sidelines and throwing rotten tomatoes. If you can't see that the park added events, improved the way it operates, and extended a hand to the volunteers and event organizers who had been shunted aside in the past, then you aren't paying attention. We also can't let our anger at what's gone wrong before blind us to what is going right now. I have seen first hand the hard work and dedication that has gone into correcting the course of the park and I feel those efforts deserve support. A small minority have tried to make the perfect the enemy of the good and point out how things aren't where they should be, but I see a group who's only had a year and has made a lot of progress which shows no signs of letting up as long as voters continue their support.
Last year, a "no" vote was needed to upend the corrupt structure of the Parks and Rec board, but the time has come to recognize that the only way to move forward and to continue to fix and improve the Park is to vote yes. Now, with a new board in place and a renewed commitment to the park, $10-$20 is a small price to pay to allow the continued operation and future improvement of the park.
Of course you may not agree with every decision made in the operation or improvement of the park, but voting "no" doesn't help that. Voting "no" simply closes the park and removes the hope that one day it can be a self-funded educational tool and tourist attraction. If you want to improve the park or change it's direction you can join the Parks Board, volunteer at the park, run for County Board, or you can keep lobbing rotten tomatoes at those doing the job, but the only message a "no" votes sends is to close Charlton Park. Let's send a different message- that we care about the future while we seek to preserve and educate about the past. Let's show that we appreciate the diligent and determined efforts of countless volunteers who are committed to improving and maintaining the park. Say "yes" to Charlton Park.
Remember to vote on Tuesday, November 6.