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Let all voices be heard with park

During the Tuesday, April 6, Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, a comment we received was read to the group in which it was asserted that Washington Park is “underutilized,” and so therefore we urgently need to build a bunch of mountain biking trails there all of a sudden. The assertion is of course subjective at best, and that is putting it charitably.

I can say as a nine-year representative of the city of Warren Parks and Recreation Commission that there is not even the smallest kernel of validity to any suggestion that Washington Park is “underutilized.”

The claim is simply standard modus operandi for mountain bikers each time they attempt to swoop in and expropriate yet another cherished natural area.

Just so everyone who would like to see Washington Park permanently protected is aware, we are going to need strong opposition to the idea of “intense development” (their words) at Washington Park to prevent it from happening. The confirmation bias in favor of such development is rife among a handful of city of Warren decision-makers who could probably make it happen if we let them. They have plainly pre-decided that mountain biking and other developments go forward at Washington Park. Public opinion to the contrary is merely a nuisance to be given the proverbial eye-roll of derision as they plow forward with their plans.

If you care about permanently preserving the natural charm and wildlife habitat of Washington Park forever, we are going to need an effort comparable to the neighborhood effort that prevented a dog park in Mulberry Park, and the more recent grassroots effort that prevented commercial development of a hotel at Breezepoint Landing.

Please contact our elected officials in the City Council today and politely ask that no overt developments occur at Washington Park, including mountain biking trails or anything else. And please hold your calendar open on the evening of June 8 for the anticipated public meeting on this subject.

Kirk Johnson is a member of the city of Warren Parks and Recreation Commission.

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