Monday, October 18, 2021

Letter to the Editor: The Future of Our Parks



Dearest Members of Our Community,

It has been quite a while since I’ve written something for publication in our local news media, but some recent events have left me compelled to do so in the hopes of helping people understand in its entirety an issue which has come before our city councilors.

As a Member of PRAC, I have had the honor of participating in an extensive discussion regarding one of our city’s most valuable features: Veterans Community Park. As a committee, PRAC has spent hundreds of hours visiting local groups, holding workshops, and reviewing surveys within our home town in the hopes of gathering information on how best to continue the wonderful development of our Island’s Park System and Amenities. Over the course of this process, the consensus has been quite obvious- to keep Veterans park free of extensive structural development and retain ‘Green’ space. As an individual taxpayer, I could not agree more with this sentiment. Preserving natural park green space is critical to well-rounded development in any municipality. Unfortunately, as is sometimes the case in politics and the court of public opinion, I think that some individuals in our city government have mistaken our citizenry’s desire for preservation of green space as a tacit endorsement of stopping gradual and necessary improvements at Veteran’s Park.

Make no mistake, Veteran’s community park NEEDS continued investment. Many of these improvements were long ago laid out in an extensive Master Plan for the park nearly a decade ago. Yes, some features no longer fit with the needs and wants of our citizens (a performing arts center for instance) and should be removed from present planning- but many aspects of that plan are huge areas of deficiency for the park. Renovated Bathroom Facilities, A stage area for events or musical performances, development of on-street and nearby parking facilities, and a comprehensive lighting plan are just of few of the improvements for the park that are long overdue. These along with MUCH NEEDED Environmentally sensitive Landscape improvements and tree cover would only add to the area and functionality of the park ‘Green’ Space.

As part of the annual budgeting process, PRAC has requested funding for completing a revision of the Veterans Park Master Plan. This funding would allow the incorporation of the extensive community feedback that has been collected and create a clearer path forward and cost for the park’s development and improvement in addition to designing some of these elements in further detail. I fail to see how some would perceive this request as a covert attempt to do anything other than thoughtfully plan out the continued improvement of one of our city’s most cherished assets.

Your Neighbor,

Dr. Carlos Portu, MD

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