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Monday, September 25, 2023
Sept. 25, 2023

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Accessible play; Safe Stay delay

The Columbian

Cheers: To a place to play. A new playground has opened at Esther Short Park, replacing one that was destroyed by arson 16 months ago. City officials already had planned to replace the playground, and the fire expedited the efforts. As The Columbian reports, the playground “still features swings, slides and places to climb, but it is more inclusive, making it possible for youngsters of a variety of abilities to play.”

Esther Short Park is the centerpiece of the Vancouver story. A revamp of the park some 25 years ago made it more inviting and spurred development on surrounding blocks. That, indirectly, led to The Waterfront Vancouver development, which further marked the city as a thriving, vibrant locale. The new playground represents an additional step in that development, adding another dynamic piece to the downtown core.

Jeers: To Safe Stay delays. A third Safe Stay Community for Vancouver was expected to open early this year, but construction has not yet started. The Safe Stay facilities provide modular pallet shelters for previously homeless people, and the latest one will be downtown, at West 11th and Daniels streets.

Plans to include showers and restrooms for residents — instead of the port-a-potties found at the first two sites — have complicated contracting and construction, delaying the development. It is important that city officials make the new community work for both residents and neighbors, and getting it right can take time. But we hope that the kinks get ironed out and construction can begin soon.

Cheers: To a melting pot. A recent article by Columbian reporter Meg Wochnick details how high school soccer is helping refugees from Ukraine adjust to a new home. Illia Strynada and Volodymyr Antoniuk are recent arrivals from the war-torn country and are the leading scorers for the Fort Vancouver squad.

School officials say 70 students are recent arrivals from various Eastern European countries, and the soccer players have joined a team on which most athletes have Spanish as their first language. Coach Juan Mendoza Rodriguez said tales of the Ukrainians’ escape from war has had a bonding effect: “That brought everyone together and created that community we need.”

Jeers: To walking out. Republicans in the Oregon Senate have again refused to do their jobs. Rather than face defeat in votes about gun safety, abortion rights and gender-affirming care, they have not shown up for work — repeating a tactic from recent years. The move prevents a quorum from being formed, which means votes cannot be conducted.

That extends a pattern that has diminished democracy throughout the country. In Tennessee and Montana this year, majority Republicans have sought to remove certain Democrats from the legislatures. Elected officials in all states should do their jobs — and allow their fellow officials to work for constituents, as well.

Cheers: To cleaning up the neighborhood. La Center appears a little more welcoming after large hand-painted swastikas on the side of a house have been painted over. A Nazi flag that flew above the house also has been removed.

After the symbols drew public attention and complaints at a city council meeting, neighbors say that family members intervened and improved the outward appearance of the home. Questions remain about how much control city officials should have over home decorations. And concern remains about the hateful ideology represented by the symbols. But for now, cheers go to home improvement in La Center.