Friday, May 11, 2007

Optional law enforcement?

It was interesting reading, the May 9 article "Bellevue man dumps four-wheeler in river."

In case you missed it, the event took place in the Howard Preserve, a riparian preserve that is dedicated to save and revitalize almost 13 aces of wildlife habitat along the Big Wood River. This preserve was made possible by several years of work by volunteers from the public, the Wood River Land Trust, local businesses' generosity, and the donation of a local family. I have personally witnessed hundreds of hours put towards this property to make it the safe and enjoyable outdoor mecca it is today. And each year additional volunteer hours are put into the Howard Preserve to keep it clean and natural.

It exists to give a place of sanctuary for humans to enjoy nature literally out their back doors and to provide habitat for nature where it would otherwise disappear under a field of asphalt and manicured lawns. And for all this that is provided, it is only asked a few things from those who visit; No alcohol, no guns, no littering, and no motorized vehicles. Not really that much to ask of visitors. With as little as is asked, we still find empty beer cans littering the banks, graffiti on the trees, and vehicles driving past the signs and onto the trails.

Yet on a Monday, a Bellevue man was reportedly caught by the Bellevue Marshal's Department driving his four-wheeler not only on the Howard Preserve, but in the Big Wood River. The man was apparently caught in the act as he (not a child, but a grown adult) was leaving his vehicle, full of oiI and gas, in the river. And what did the Bellevue City marshal do? Reading the article, it sounds like he called a tow truck for the man. He certainly did not cite this illegal and environmentally dangerous act. Why? Because the marshall " ... figured he'd been punished enough."

I wonder about the punishment enacted upon the volunteers who created this haven, the river's health, the local businesses who have donated so much as to make this preserve possible, the residents of Bellevue who enjoy the preserve and still follow the laws governing its use for our safety.

Now here is the ironic part. That article was on Page A31. Just to the left at the bottom on Page A30 was a letter from BeIlevue Councilwoman Tammy Eaton, asking the citizens of Bellevue to vote "yes" on the upcoming election to increase the property tax levy. Of this additional $200,000 the city is asking for, $92,060 would go to the Bellevue Marshall's Department. I am wondering why? So that the Marshall's Department can do "nothing" on a grander scale? The sad part, from personal experiences, this is not an isolated incident.

I realize just how little funds the city of Bellevue operates on and that all the departments except the library require additional funds to keep our city operating at the bare minimal of services. But I am the type of person who does not spend money on a horse until I see it trot.

Eric Allen


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