EAch issue of Panegyria contains an article called Menhir News, written by Pete Pathfinder Davis, the Archpriest of the ATC. The topic of his News this time is too important to get posted only in Panegyria. I’ve copied the bulk of his News below.
We have been told that the Washington Department of Parks and Recreation has to cut its budget 10% right now (don’t we all?) and has placed Fort Flagler on its planned closure list. Fort Flagler might not be there for us to use once again in 2010.
If the Retreat Center is shut down and “mothballed” it will deteriorate rapidly. The buildings date back to the early 1940s, and some to the 1900s, and are constantly in need of attention. In the last few years, the state has spent a great deal on modernization. New roofs, all new windows throughout the barracks, and fire sprinkler systems in all the major buildings must have cost a great deal of money.
A part of that money came from all of you who attended SMF. Each year the rental fees, which remain with the park, have gone up, and now the cost is almost four times what it was when we began. Every spring, we give the Parks Department a very nice Easter egg in the form of a very large check for rent.
Flagler is the jewel in the crown of the Washington state parks system. If Flagler closes, all the improvements will surely be for naught. All the spiritual energy we have built up in this place, this holy and beautiful site, will be lost. If Flagler closes and the rangers are laid off, there will be no upkeep, no repairs, no more improvements. Once the momentum of present improvements is lost, the place will quickly become too costly to re-open, too expensive to breathe the life back into. It may be lost to all the people of Washington state, not just us for a few days each spring.
Author Margaret Mead is well known for having said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Now we all need to commit ourselves to saving this state park facility, our holy ground, from being closed. The state cares little that we think the place sacred to us or not; they are concerned only with the cost of keeping some parks open at the expense of closing down others – simple arithmetic. But this is a form of mathematics that doesn’t always produce the same answer when you work it out, because there is another, non-mathematic component of the equation: People!
We are, all of us, taxpayers and voters. The people making these decisions work for us and are responsive to our needs and desires, if only we make those needs plain to them, early and often. We are at a turning point right now.
Now is the time for us to write letters (not e-mails, real hard copy paper letters are impossible to ignore). Letters to the Governor. Letters to the Parks and Recreation Commissioners. Letters to the bureaucrats who manage the parks system. Letters to our elected members of the legislature for the district we live in.
Please, don’t wait. Sit down right now and start writing letters to them, letting them know that Fort Flagler Retreat Center is an important facility for you; that you visit it at least several times every year, often traveling from a great distance to do so. Ask, perhaps even demand, that Fort Flagler be kept open. I’m sure there are numerous smaller and less historically significant parks that could be mothballed for a time in Flagler’s stead, and reopened at some future time at far less expense. They only need to cut 10%!
No need to be specific about ATC’s use of Flagler or what we do there, as that may be a hot button for some bigoted state representatives with religious agendas (like my own senator).
Just tell them you want Fort Flagler State Park Retreat Center to remain open so the public can continue to use these wonderful facilities. Say how important to you as a voter and taxpayer that is. Give your name and your return address. That’s all it takes – but lots of such letters are necessary.
It’s the quantity received and specific things asked for that will bring the necessary pressure to bear on this “penny-wise and pound-foolish” decision to close Fort Flagler. Here are some names and addresses. They are listed in the order of their influence on this problem, so Please, write to them ALL!
- The Hon. Christine Gregoire, Office of the Governor, State of Washington, PO Box 40002, Olympia, WA 98504-0002.
- Mr. Rex Derr, Director, Wa. Parks & Recreation Comm., PO Box 42650, Olympia, WA 98504-2650.
- Ms. Judy Johnson, Dep. Dir. & COO, Wa. Parks & Recreation Comm., PO Box 42650, Olympia, WA 98504-2650.
- Mr. Eliot Scull, Chair, Wa. Parks & Recreation Comm., PO Box 42650, Olympia, WA 98504-2650.
- Mr. Eric Watilo, Asst. Dir. for P&S, NW Region, Wa. Parks & Recreation Comm., 220 N. Walnut St., Burlington, WA 98233.
To find the name of your local legislative representative, go to the roster at http://www.leg.wa.gov/legislature
Pete Pathfinder Davis