(Author’s Note- This is a projected experience, one day in the near future)
I went to San Lee Park the other day planning to hike along the mountain bike trail. It’s been a hike I’ve made many times over the past 20 years or so. I love going over to the park. What a jewel it is. It’s a place where one can go to feel the changing seasons; watch ducks and geese paddle around in endless patterns; and see the effort the resident beaver have made when they think no one is watching. My time in the park is always one of escape and reflection about the real meaning of life.
I really needed that release, that noisy quiet that only nature can provide. But, it wasn’t to be. Although I could see the Ranger moving around in solitary effort, the gate was locked. The sign read Park Closed No Entrance Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted. How could this be? I wanted to know.
I flagged the Ranger down and, in his own humble way, he related that San Lee and all of the other county parks and designated recreational areas were closed due to funding shortfalls. In fact, he was only acting as caretaker on a reduced salary and in a greatly diminished capacity. He explained that most of the county park and recreation staff were let go, the programs cancelled, and the facilities closed. He felt it would take years before the pending neglect would be overcome. But he said at least he had a job, for now.
That day in the future might not be too far off. While the Lee County Board of education and its school administrators threatened canceling athletics and other student enrichment programs as the drastic results of insufficient school funding, the Lee County Board of Commissioners may not be able to merely threaten closures and curtailments of many programs and services, they may just have to do it. In the meantime, make a trip over to your favorite park, take a walk around, enjoy the fresh air and the sights and sounds of nature, it might just have to last you a while.