You don’t tend to appreciate things much when they are handed to you. A teenager who has to work to buy his or her first car tends to take care of it better than one that’s handed out a sweet ride by a doting daddy.
City officials foreshadowed during a parks and trails committee meeting this week that the new park slated for East 5th Street may require some fundraising, donations and volunteerism to be all it can be.
They sounded almost apologetic that the city may not be able to foot the whole bill, but heck, this sounds like a great opportunity to me.
If parks are used by an entire community, why shouldn’t an entire community be involved and invested?
We’ve done this before. I was on the committee that built the tree museum years ago. We knew better than to ask the taxpayers to write a fat check for that park - we raised the money and all the planning was volunteered and donated.
The LakeTrail started as a volunteer project. So did the disability-accessible fishing pier at Frank Starr.
One of the coolest park developments I can remember was in Alta, when volunteers flocked out to build a community-school playground next to the park, all out of wood and tires and such. The community took great pride in that project, cares for it well, and after years, it’s just as much fun today. My kids spent lots of time over there when they were young, and they loved it better than the cookie-cutter plastic stuff.
Come on, don’t tell me we don’t have a civic group in Storm Lake that could take on a volunteer playground project. Several of the smallest communities in our area have done it. Don’t tell me we don’t have donors who would provide for a bench, a basketball goal or a swingset. Or people who might fund a tree as a memorial to a lost loved one. What better way to honor a memory than to provide a place for children to run and laugh and play.
Good gosh, do we really need government to pay for everything we want to do in our own community, to build everything for us so we don’t have to get our hands dirty, and worse, it seems, to pick up our messes after us?
It’s alarming to hear a park-planning group have to worry about whether or not to put in a trash bin because people in this town use them to dump their residential waste. How were people raised, that they think it’s okay to leave their trash on tables in parks, or throw it in ditches or other people’s yards?
We wouldn’t have to have discussions like this, or mandatory trash regluations, if people were civilized and picked up after themselves.
I’ve been a part of different clean-up efforts on the lakefront over the years, everybody should do their little bit. It’s no much to ask that people stick a garbage bag in their trunk and pick up a blowing plastic bag or whatever while strolling a park or beach.
But I’ve had enough of people who are just too plain lazy or stupid to throw away their own mess. They enjoy our wonderful parks and beaches, but have no inclination that they should leave them as nice as they found them, so the next person or family can enjoy them.
Our city crews do a great job of taking care of our plublic places, but they shouldn’t have to clean up anyone’s intentional garbage on a daily basis. It’s time to take ownership, and it’s time to call out the people who litter and take advantage.
As far as I’m concerned, if you leave your beer bottles all over our beach, or your food scattered all over our picnic tables, we should get your license number, load up a dump truck with the smelliest, gnarliest garbage we can scrape up at our recycling center, and deposit it squarely at your front door.
Barring that, a nuisance fine will have to do, I suppose.
Thankfully, for every person who trashes up our town, there are several willing to go out of their way to give back.
Some of those people are serving on the new mayor’s Parks, Trails and Urban Forestry Committee. I’ll bet there are more who will be willing to help if asked.
It’s a cool, rare experience to hear volunteers planning out a new neighborhood park.
There’s excitement, and pride, and that’s infectious.
The City did an extraordinary thing here, I think - seizing the opportunity to obtain a sad site scarred by fire, to turn into a lovely green space for people to enjoy, and thanks to the state REAP grant program, buying the land without using local tax dollars.
Involving the community and volunteers in the process makes it that much better. It always means more to people if they have a little skin in the game.