Inside Opinion

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Tag: parks


Memo to Teamsters: Park volunteers aren’t scabs

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Teamsters Local Union 117, which represents Pierce County’s park maintenance workers, knows one set of rules by heart.

If its leaders think the county is breaking those rules, they know the drill: Parse their contract language. File grievances. Feed unfair labor practices claims into the machinery of the state Public Employment Relations Commission.

They did that this month over perceived contract violations by Pierce County Parks & Recreation.

But there’s a bigger set of rules that involve public goodwill and the devotion of volunteers. The union trampled those rules when it decided to fight the efforts of neighbors who stepped forward to clean up and maintain the Gonyea and Dawson playfields in Parkland and Midland.

Those two parks – and many others – had been all but abandoned by Pierce County as a result of its dire financial crisis. Funding has gotten scarce, and Parks & Recreation has been forced to stop watering grass, picking up trash and operating restrooms at many of its properties.

The neighbors weren’t content to stand by and watch their playfields rot. They took on some of the maintenance work on their own initiative. The Teamsters raised a stink: The work belonged to them, and Parks & Recreation was letting volunteers do it for free.
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Death of Sprinker Recreation Center would be intolerable

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

It was easy to let the Sprinker Recreation Center slide for many years while deferring expensive renovations and repairs. Now comes the reckoning.

The center’s main building – which has been loved to death by hundreds of thousands of people – will have to close this fall, a victim of long neglect. The gravest problem is the dilapidated roof, which is weakened and could collapse under heavy rains, winds or snowfall.

Permanent closure cannot be an option. In terms of usage, the programs at the Spanaway center constitute literally half of what Pierce County Parks & Recreation offers countywide: About 50 percent of its organized recreational activities happens in that single location. Sprinker saw 314,00 visits last year; it’s one of the most popular destinations in the region.

The 34-year-old building has been declining for years. It is visibly in disrepair, and skaters have long had to cope with water falling on the ice from the rusting roof. Its structural problems are underscored by signs of general decrepitude.

Many outdoor activities, such as baseball, could continue after the closure of the building. Lost would be the center’s nationally recognized full-size ice rink. That means the loss of figure skating, public skating, skate lessons, adult and youth hockey, league games – a host of opportunities only Sprinker is able to provide in such abundance to Pierce County. Indoor tennis is threatened, too.
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