Park vote shows our apathy and uncaring
Disappointed. Sad. Angry. These are just a few of the reactions to Fredericksburg’s second failed sports park election, even though the organizers and advocates trimmed it back substantially from the original proposal.
For a town with so much wealth and so many attractions, we can’t even muster spending a relatively modest amount (compared to some area sports park facilities) on recreational fields for our youth.
First, the turnout was more than poor. Too many people, it seems, just assumed it would pass this time around and didn’t bother to vote. The original vote had 667 “for” votes. Saturday’s trimmed down proposal had just 531 turn out to vote for it. “Nays” also had fewer votes, recording 571 to the last proposal’s 767. A simple repeat of those who voted in favor the first time would have won the day.
Regarding the poor turnout, in-town employers should make sure their employees are given time to go vote in all elections. This is an essential part of democracy.
This seemed to us and others like a needed project. Our young athletes will continue to drag home at 10 p.m. after practice and games, even on school nights, because there is a dearth of available playing fields.
Many complain incessantly that the only things in town are “for the tourists,” yet we fail to get behind projects such as this.
One contributing factor was, obviously, rising property values over the past several years. This market has seen large increase driven by demand, and our taxes rise accordingly. (We have low tax rates compared to other area towns, but our values drive the increases.)
Another factor is that, at last count, 52% of the homes in Fredericksburg are no longer owner-occupied. That means they have been purchased for a B&B or serve as a vacation home for some. Those investors are less likely to have much local interest in ballfields because they don’t have kids or grandkids playing. Their biggest concern is keeping their costs down, and maybe more than a few viewed this vote as revenge for the city instituting some B&B regulations. (Most any tourist destination has similar regulations, people.)
And let’s not forget the grouch crowd. Those are the people who never want anything. They think kids are fine playing on a dirt field because that’s what they did when they were children a half century ago or more. Their kids are gone and their grandchildren live elsewhere, so this crowd just flat doesn’t care if it means they’re going to be out a few dollars each month.
We don’t want to become another Aspen, Colorado, which is a playground for the wealthy, while anyone who works there usually lives elsewhere and commutes into town to work. They also take their paychecks back to other towns.
In short, this is embarrassing that the organizers of these sports can’t overcome voter apathy and dissent to pass a modest sports park bond. They work their tails off to provide recreational activities for these kids, and this is how the town repays them.
We’re out of words, except “Embarrassing” and “Pathetic.” – K.E.C.