From the editor: Thoughts about the use of Riverside Park and those who serve Scottville

March 7, 2012

By ROB ALWAY

mcp editor

 

On Monday, the Scottville City Commission took the recommendation of its Parks and Recreation Committee and voted to no longer allow demolition derbies at the Riverside Park. Because it is a land use issue, the Planning Commission had also recommended in November that derbies be held only when the park is closed and be approved only on a case by case basis.

 

This has caused some hard feelings with event organizer Todd Sorensen and derby fans.

 

For full disclosure, I am the vice chairman of the Scottville Planning Commission. I personally am not a follower of demolition derbies, however my stepbrother, nephew and cousins are avid demolition derby enthusiasts. I am not opposed to them. I think they are good, clean entertainment and a demolition derby during Harvest Festival is a good fit. Todd does a great job with the derbies and is passionate about them.

 

However, I do not believe the open space at Riverside Park is the best use for that property. I believe the city would be better to create a long term plan to provide non-motorized recreational facilities in there. That space is currently used for high school cross country meets and just this past fall became home of a wonderful disc golf course. I believe those type of events are more appropriate for events at Riverside Park.

 

Adjacent to the open space is the Western Michigan Old Engine Club. The club serves as a living historical museum that encourages cultural tourism in our community, an industry that has been proven to provide great economic boosts to community’s economy.

 

Again, for full disclosure, my family is involved in the old engine club. My dad is a past president and both my brothers are members. But, even if my family was not involved in the club I would believe it was a great asset to Scottville.

 

With that said, it would great for Todd to continue to hold a Harvest Festival demolition derby. I do believe, though, that negative comments on forums such as Facebook only cause hard feelings and do not promote good will towards future events. It’s natural to be upset and understandable to take it personal, but the decisions made by the elected members of city commission and its appointed committee members are decisions that are not taken lightly.

 

We live in a republic, which means that we elect people to represent us in government. Further, in municipalities such as Scottville, those elected representatives serve on various committees such as the parks and recreation committee and the planning commission. Those two committees, as with others, also include citizens who are appointed by the elected city commissioners. These appointed representatives receive no money, but rather serve because they care about what is best for the community.

 

Because we live in a representative government the elected officials must follow the will of the people. In the case of the demolition derby the will of the people was that it was not the best fit for Riverside Park. The discussion was held by three different entities, the city manager and the Riverside Park staff, all of whom received complaints about the noise caused by the derby. Many of those complaints were from citizens of Scottville and neighboring communities. Many were also received by campers.

 

I would like to thank those who serve to better their community. Thank you to Todd Sorensen for all your hard work with the demolition derbies. Thank you to City Manager Amy Williams for your hard work and dedication. Thank you to the city commissioners and all those who serve on committees for giving your time to make Scottville a better place to live.

 

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