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Small fee would be huge help for parks

After reading some of the government hate mail regarding mismanagement of Sacramento County park funds, I thought that my "two cents" was not worth posting. Then I read Elaine Gale's piece in the 9/5 Forum and decided otherwise. Her love of McKinley Park is the same as my love for the American River Parkway.

I live in Rancho Cordova directly across from a city managed and maintained park. I see the enjoyment that people find in coming to a clean, well maintained park that they may not pay a dime for, if they live outside of Rancho Cordova. The park is used daily by many families enjoying the clean picnic tables, maintained barbecue grills, properly maintained children's climb/slide/play area as well as the soccer field (busy almost every day, in season) with not a blade of dead grass!

A couple of years ago the question was asked of local residents by our new city government – Would you be willing to pay $19 per year as an addition to your property tax to secure the management and maintenance of our city parks? The response was so positive that it was included on the next ballot and is now part of our tax base.

Here's what I get for $19 per year for my family. A city managed park system that has a crew that takes great pride in their work. I have often seen one or more of the Cordova Parks crew cleaning up early on Sunday morning so the park will be clean and attractive later in the day. When the pine needles fly, they not only sweep up the mess on the park side of the street, they sweep up my side of the street as well. Did somebody tell them to do that? I don't think so. They appreciate the clean, well maintained park just as much as I do.

These park crew gentlemen are a pleasure to talk with as well. They know their parks and if you have a suggestion, they look into it and do their best to make it right.

This is what I get for about 36 cents per week!

However, my park is the American River Parkway. For the past 25 years, I've used it almost every day to ride my bike or to walk. I often pass restrooms that I would not consider using as the stink is horrendous. I ride over rough sections of bike trail that have been marked for repair for months (some finally fixed this summer). I still love being there.

I see proud bucks with their new set of antlers each spring. I dodge flocks of tom turkeys strutting their stuff to impress the ladies. I see other walkers whom I've "known" for years by sight only. No idea what their names are, but we greet each other as friends nonetheless. I look forward to the change of seasons – the rise and fall of the river, the fall colors coming and going. I feel a sense of peace as soon as I get on the bike trail for a ride. The worries and cares of the day are forgotten. I spend time remembering that huge buck that I stopped to stare at early one morning about 10 years ago. I look for him in the same spot! I stay physically fit because it's so easy to think: What will I miss if I don't see the trail today?

The dedicated park maintenance crew works very hard with the resources they have to keep up the appearance and beauty of the American River Parkway. One gentleman who works near the Sunrise Bridge cleans up gravel and sand that has been washed onto the trail from a heavy rain before it causes a bike accident. He also trims bushes to make sure no blind corners exist to cause an accident. The leaf sweeper/blower lady is so courteous, you would think she knew you. She always slows down or stops when a walker or biker comes by and always has a friendly wave and a smile on her face.

These are two people who face a task that should be done by two dozen!

I gladly pay $50 each year for the American River Park Pass that supports the American River Parkway Foundation. I would gladly pay an additional $50 per year to Sacramento County if we could have those two dozen ladies and gentlemen park crew back to keep this one-of-a-kind legacy in proper shape for generations to come.

If park funds are being mismanaged, make it known to the public so they can vote to fix the problem. If a good-old-boys network seems to control funding that is spent improperly, make it known to the public so we can vote to fix the problem.

Is it worth 36 cents per week to each property owner family in the county to secure the funding for all of Sacramento County's parks? I think it's worth a lot more than that.

– Dick Shultz, Rancho Cordova

A run for one's money

Re "By tending to our parks, we tend to ourselves" (Forum, Sept. 5): Brava, Elaine Gale, on a great piece of writing about Sacramento's beloved McKinley Park. I owe McKinley as well as the American River Parkway as much of a debt of gratitude as the SacFit Running Club and my running partners for helping me train for two full and two half-marathons.

The expansive beauty, serenity and relative safety of these two parks offered ideal spaces to train. For me, running through the streets was not an option for many reasons, including exhaust fumes and road-ragers. And, if I had been relegated to logging anywhere from two to 18 miles on an oval track at the local high school, I would have certainly been driven to the brink of insanity.

When some feel "taxes" is a dirty word, I am all for coughing up my fair share to sustain our public parks. It's a wise investment, indeed, and one that we already know pays fat dividends.

– Angela Luna, Sacramento

Create independent district

Re "Is parkway beloved, or a 'burden'?" (Editorial, Sept. 2): The American River Parkway is an integral part of life in Sacramento. It offers a unique urban oasis where people from the capital city and throughout California can raft, picnic, run, walk, cycle, fish and recreate.

I have spent thousands of hours since I was 10 years old fishing the river for shad, striped bass, salmon, steelhead, black bass and other species. Before the recent decline of Central Valley salmon and steelhead, I enjoyed some of the best fishing I have experienced anywhere while fishing on this beautiful metropolitan river.

The parkway and other parks must be kept open to the public and not privatized. I agree with the late Elmer C. Aldrich that the solution lies in the creation of an independent parks and open space district similar to the East Bay Regional Park District. I have visited many of the East Bay parks and have been very impressed with how they are run and maintained.

Grass-roots environmentalists, anglers, cyclists and other community members must work with city and county political leaders to craft a solution that not only keeps the parks open, but also enhances and expands the facilities.

– Dan Bacher, Sacramento

Parkway, sponsored by

The American River Parkway is a jewel indeed. All the reasons for its existence and upkeep are hard to argue against. But, with no money in the county coffers, it will begin to deteriorate. So, given that alternative, who would really mind sponsorships?

What if companies such as REI were allowed to set up kiosks to tout their recreational products? What if you could get a Merlino's Freeze at the 10-mile mark? Or a Subway sandwich?

A few carefully placed and appropriate way stations on the bikeway could produce money for maintenance and make visiting the parkway an even more pleasant experience.

– Dennis Newhall, Sacramento


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