Another meeting [which occurred on Thursday, Oct. 27 and Saturday, Oct. 29] to gather support for a new community center was held. Only a tiny group showed up, but what the heck, my wife and I were happy.

It was a chance to learn, to participate, to hear from the audience, from the community, their ideas and wishes. A big decision, a big action about to affect everyone for a long time, let’s discuss it. Chairman Bill promised a “time for sharing, for hearing what the community wants.”

But, oh no, it was just another tightly controlled meeting. Only questions were allowed, no comments, no wishes.

“But sir, this is a complex issue,” (Chairman Bill was quick, only questions)! “But sometimes a question requires some background,” (that’s not a question, next).

You get the gist, a typical local meeting and another waste of an evening.

But things finally loosened up, concerns were raised, discussion started, and it turned into a real learning experience. After all, we’re all good people. Only, good people sometimes make mistakes.

Dawn eloquently answered our concern — to have an arborist there when the playground was built to make sure the trees were preserved. John was there, he had resigned but he’s back. Good natured John, everyone’s glad he hasn’t given up on us. And he asked a probing question, one that’s stuck since the project’s inception: “What about the costs? Who is going to pay the electric bill?”

Mr. Capparelli — and I have to say, he’s a man that’s gained a lot of my respect — in the midst of local controversy hasn’t disappeared or gone underground. Calm, practical, and intelligent, he spoke clearly, “There’s only one way you can pay for a community center, you must raise taxes.”

You can’t charge a membership fee, there’s not enough residents that are going to use it. You can’t charge an attendance fee, it would never support the operational costs.

We must raise taxes. Everyone’s taxes, the part-time weekenders, the young families that are struggling with mortgage payments and already high property taxes.

You will be forced to pay. Every single person on the Hill (Idyllwild, Pine Cove and Mountain Center) will be forced to buy a membership. No other way to pay for an indoor pool and world-class gym and large brand new auditorium.

Now I’ve seen this in other towns, over and over. The math, when it comes to adding all the costs of operation, is always too low.

First, it’s just a little tax. Then we need just a little more, and then a lot more. Eventually, the community is drained of precious resources and funds that are supposed to be going for recreation and not buildings.

A park downtown, during the weekends, would be flooded with visitors. Visitors mean jobs. A community center means higher taxes.

“Yes” to a park. “No” to a community center

Norm Cassen
Pine Cove