I attended the Bellevue Council meeting Tuesday evening and admitted to them that I haven't been paying attention to all of the issues for a while. I did, however, take the opportunity to request a bit more information about the Bayne Park skate plaza, which is currently under construction here. Yet another vote was taken at the meeting Tuesday to approve spending yet more of Bellevue taxpayers' money for that project.
It was confirmed that so far Bellevue has already spent $31,000 of our local tax dollars for the skate plaza project, as well as another $134,000 of our federal tax dollars (in the form of federal grants). Tuesday's vote was to approve spending another $9,000 of our local tax dollars and another $85,000 in federal tax dollars toward this skate plaza project. I asked and it was explained that we can't really back out of this now, since the project was voted into existence a year and a half ago. We have to finish this much now, since construction is already in progress.
I must tell you, though, it really smacked of hypocrisy to see council member Kathy Coder up there refusing to support the expenditure of “up-to-$2,500” for the replanting of trees that the borough cut down a couple of years ago, under great controversy at the time. Apparently the trees were healthy but some borough council members and employees had strong feelings about getting rid of those trees instead of doing needed maintenance on them. So they just cut them down.
I had to think about this…
Mrs. Coder's argument on Tuesday over the purchase of replacement trees -- which volunteers have committed to the labor of replanting for free -- was purportedly based on saving Bellevue taxpayer dollars.
But council member Coder, as council president a year and a half ago, found it perfectly fine to legislate the spending of tens of thousands of our hard-earned Bellevue tax dollars -- not to mention now over two hundred thousand of our federal tax dollars -- for a skateboard plaza. Now Coder's outcry is about $2,500 or less to replace trees that people fervently asked the borough not to cut down in the first place.
Now I hate to be so cynical, but I do wonder about this. Is there any connection between (1) the fact that Mrs. Coder's church Web site posts a regular prayer group meeting at the local skateboard shop and (2) the fact that Mrs. Coder, with her majority on Bellevue Council, voted in a spanking new, exorbitantly expensive, taxpayer-funded skateboard plaza? I remember being surprised when a young friend told me a while back (say, about a year and a half ago?) that he had walked out of the skateboard shop because he felt awkward that they were in there praying for a skateboard park -- literally praying! Weird, I thought.
As we see now, it can also get pretty daggone expensive when the prayers of a few nice folks are answered with large amounts of everybody's taxpayer dollars. I don't know, should we be praying for replacement of those chopped-down trees? Seems a small thing to ask in comparison.
Carol A. Wivell
[Editor’s note: The skate plaza project originally was presented to council in three self-contained phases. Completing Phase I has never obligated the borough to move on to Phase II, etc.]