The July 26 edition of this newspaper carried a letter from Representative Ed Greef that favored trading the town park for a smaller acreage by the bridge. His letter also denigrates the mayor and town council and all those that followed the democratic process and spoke against the land trade at regularly scheduled council meetings. Good grief, Mr. Greef.
Public testimony was collected at several council meetings, and concerned citizens also attended an informal meeting chaired by Fred Thomas that sought a solution to the river access problem. At those gatherings no one spoke in favor of the land trade. The mayor and town council have gone to admirable lengths to find a solution to the access issue and should be commended for that effort and not criticized.
River access at Stevensville is important, no doubt about that as business leaders can testify, and Mayor Crews found a workable solution in placing a temporary access for boaters on park land with minimal disturbance to the land while working with Fish, Wildlife and Parks for a permanent boat launch on the west side of the river. And a west side launch site has the added advantage of separating boats from swimming and playing families and children. Contrary to what Mr. Greef wrote, the temporary access will not require a huge effort and expense to develop. The head of the town road department stated that little work would be required to develop the temporary access. More than that, Ravalli County Fish and Wildlife Association generously donated funds to support the work.
The access site issue has festered for months, beginning when Fred Thomas presented Roy Capp’s proposal for a land trade in Capp’s effort to acquire the town park. Mr. Capp has tried to bully the people of Stevensville and their elected representatives but without success. It is his way or the highway. But no one wants his way except for Fred Thomas and Ed Greef. Good grief, Mr. Greef.
Now Mr. Capp has the right to do what he wants with his land. The town of Stevensville has an equal right to reject a land trade. Moreover, it appears that state law prohibits the disposal of park land.
Mayor Crews’ solution has the support of business leaders because of the economic benefits of an access site. It has the support of guides and outfitters, fishermen and fisherwomen, recreational boaters, park users, wildlife advocates, the Montana Wildlife Federation, the Ravalli Fish and Wildlife Association and the general public. And the town park is a valuable asset to the community and will be increasingly valuable to future generations.
I guess I was naive in assuming that our elected representatives would reflect the view of the vast majority of the citizens rather than that of one individual, in this case Mr. Capp. It is unfortunate that Mr. Greef did not attend any of the meetings on this issue or follow the coverage in newspapers. Good grief, Mr. Greef.