Island Rec fills the void when others are unable | Guest column

— To the Citizens say, “Yes”

By Jack McKenna

I am not enough of a language scholar to be able to confidently translate this phrase into Latin, but I would propose the above as an apt motto for Island Rec.

Here are some examples which support my position:

The Sailing Foundation and Yacht Club have the sail boats to provide beginning, intermediate and advanced instruction to island youth but do not have the organizational structure to hire instructors, advertise classes or provide oversight. Island Rec says, “Yes, we can do that.”

The result is a sailing program that starts at age eight and is capped by one of the most successful high school racing programs in the state.

Knowing that dog parks not only provide dogs with a place to run and play but more importantly connect people and create friendships, a group of island activists in cooperation with Browne’s Home Center raise funds and build a state-of-the-art dog park.

But how can the Dog Park be sustained and maintained? Island Rec says, “Yes, we can do that.” The result is a park that since its first day has enjoyed constant heavy use, yet remains a most pleasant place to enjoy with friends and pets.

The school district is facing the elimination of its sports program due to state and federal cuts and declining enrollment. Yet sports participation and academic achievement are strongly linked, and elimination of sports will harm overall achievement. Is there any way our island can come together to keep the sports program we all know is so important?

Island Rec says, “Yes, we can do that.”

The result is that with Island Rec supporting school sports to the tune of $300,000 per year, the school district is able to retain a strong athletic program and has the resources to continue to be ranked as one of the top high schools in the nation.

Similarly, our entire community is sports intensive. We field teams in all kinds of sports across all ages. Use of school district fields is so intense that it is difficult to find few weeks in the year to pause, regrow the turf and keep the fields safe.

The community responds by privately funding the construction of new fields on school district property. But who can afford to maintain the new fields?

Not the school district. Island Rec says, “Yes, we can do that.”

After school programs? Yes. Summer day camp? Yes.  Swim programs? Yes. Senior fitness? Roller Hocky? Open gym? First aid with CPR? Bike repair? Father-Daughter Dance? How about trails and concerts? Yes, yes, yes.

And yes to all the other important programs that citizens have asked for and Island Rec says, “Yes, we can do that.”

Island Rec seeks out what the citizens of this island need, and then figures out a way to say, “Yes.”

In turn, it is beyond fair that in the upcoming levy election we all mail our ballots and say, “Yes” to Island Rec.

— Editor’s note: Jack McKenna is a sailing instructor, dog park organizer and chairman of San Juan Island School District Board of Directors