November 25, 2002
Duvall projects should serve the entire community
I'm writing in response to last week's editorial comment about the Thayer Barn in Duvall. There seem to be those with the belief that the newer members of the council are woefully uninformed or misled on the facts concerned in the City of Duvall's funding of the initial work involved to save the Thayer Barn. Interestingly enough, one of the council members who indicated he didn't support funding the Thayer Barn project is a lifelong resident of Duvall.
The reason I don't believe funding Thayer Barn is a great idea? Money. I'm not disagreeing with the very passionate, very organized "barn people" simply to make enemies, or to willfully deny the long-time residents of Duvall a bit of their history.
Duvall is facing a $400,000 deficit in 2004 due to the continuing loss of tax revenues. If Duvall is unable to allow building, we might have a nice barn to visit, but we will be unable to capitalize on opportunities with other merchants and builders for additional tax revenue in the future.
A new sewer treatment plant, providing those desperately needed hookups, will cost an estimated $13 million. Councilman Will Ibershof continues to work tirelessly to obtain funding from the Legislature that could offset a portion of this cost.
Perhaps a looming $13 million expense (on top of a $400,000 deficit,) is not seen as a problem to those who believe that the barn will bring huge amounts of tourist dollars to Duvall. A restored barn is obviously much more picturesque than a sewer treatment plant. The ability to grant sewer hookups to the more than 860 requests for those hookups in the recent random allocation (for 140 available,) though, will spur increased tax revenue to a city that very much needs it.
The city has no guarantees that the group in question will ever raise the funds to see the barn moved to its permanent site. The barn task force has now scrapped the idea of constructing a stage in the building, which limits its uses as a performance venue. What events will be held at the barn that will bring in the funds necessary to pay an estimated $750,000 construction cost, let alone offset yearly operating and maintenance costs?
Duvall is a town of opposites. Many of our residents savor the rural charm of Old Town, while making their living on the cutting edge of modern technology.
There are those who have made Duvall their home for many years and enjoyed the ability to avoid the rules and regulations of life in a bigger city. Those who have moved to Duvall over the past five years are primarily young families who can ill afford more tax increases but want items like tot lots and great schools.
While, again, I certainly can understand why those who want to save Thayer Barn believe it's a necessary project, perhaps it's better to look toward a project that would serve the entire community.
If you have an opinion about the Thayer Barn project, or anything else in the 2003 budget, I would like to extend a personal invitation to you to attend the next City Council meeting, which will be held Tuesday evening, Nov. 26, at 7 p.m. We meet in the Rose Room below the library on Main Street. There is opportunity for public comment, and I promise this meeting won't be boring.
Julie Benjamin, Duvall