I reside in Bethlehem and am 71 years old. The article concerning the fee to park at Riverbend Park raised several issues for me. They are as follows:
1. Residents of Alexander County provide a significant addition to the sales taxes collected in Catawba County, so the issue of paying for use may be somewhat of a moot issue.
2. My young grandchildren live in Catawba County. Does this mean that each time, as a licensed driver, I pay a fee for taking them on a hike or risk a large parking fine?
3. The pandemic has created a significant issue for mental health of not only seniors but others who are sequestered in their homes. Should we not be encouraging many outdoor opportunities during these troubled times?
4. The Wittenburg Access in Alexander County is overrun by cars and boats not registered in Alexander County to the point that it is dangerous for me to walk in the area at times. Not to mention all the trash regular walkers pick up on the premises.
5. Forty percent of U.S. citizens have a BMI of above 30. Health experts question the efficacy of any Covid vaccine for these overweight Americans.
6. Do we get in a “tit for tat” issue of charging a fee at our Rocky Face Park or even petition Duke Power to limit the number using the Wittenberg Access area each day?
I agree that outdoor facilities are being overtaxed by increased numbers as more people come to our area. Maybe our state and local governments should make a concerted effort to create regional parks that are more inclusive and even consider providing a portion of state sales tax or enacting a construction surtax for these facilities. Limiting access is not the long-term answer.
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