BY BRUCE WARREN
Vitriol (cruel and bitter criticism), invective (insulting, abusive, or highly critical), disingenuous (not candid or sincere), vindictive (having or showing a strong or unreasoning desire for revenge), asinine (extremely stupid or foolish), denounce (publicly declare to be wrong or evil), castigate (reprimand severely), disgust (a feeling of revulsion or strong disapproval), antagonistic (showing or feeling active opposition or hostility). These are all terms used by Cole Paffett ( https://ladailypost.com/letter-to-the-editor-vitriol-toward-golfers-and-golf-course-counterproductive/ ) to describe me or my views regarding the golf course expansion expressed in my recent article https://ladailypost.com/op-ed-why-are-taxpayers-paying-for-golfers-pleasure/ . My goodness, I will have to reread my article to see if I can find evidence of all this nastiness. Use of this kind of language by Mr. Paffett certainly does not support the kind of open discussion that should be taking place. All this because I have expressed my opinion that the golf course should not expand; that taxpayer support of the golf course should be restricted to necessary repairs, maintenance, and safety/ADA concerns; and that fees should increase to be more reflective of operating expenses. John Stam’s response ( https://ladailypost.com/op-ed-response-to-mr-warrens-column ), while more constructive than Mr. Paffett’s, accused me of misinformation and unsubstantiated hyperbole, and also misquoted me. Normally I would let my article and any responses speak for themselves, but considering the nature of the responses, I feel I should address them.
Mr. Paffett’s statement that all stakeholders should “find an amicable solution for expanding the golf course” exposes the nub of the issue, which is the assumption that the golf course should expand, and that now we just need to agree how we are going make that happen. My view is expressed in my article: The golf course should not expand. I believe quite a large proportion of the population is in agreement with this, and options for the golf course should include this view.
Mr. Paffett has also attempted to associate me with views that I don’t hold. For example, when he mentions “the antagonistic attitude some in the community hold toward the county recreational facilities they don’t use” as if I must be one of those people, he couldn’t be farther from the truth. While
I don’t have children of my own, I have always strongly supported facilities and institutions that promote the health, education and happiness of our young people, even though I use none of them myself. In my mind, the occasional golfing events for youth that Mr. Stam describes do not compare with the day-to-day support that facilities like the library, aquatic center, ice rink and others offer to young people. For that reason, I think they are more deserving of our tax dollars.
Mr. Paffett’s statement “apparently, the presence of the golf course next to some of the trail network offends him” is not supported by anything in my article. I have no problem with the golf course as it now exists. Judging by the responses to the recent County poll, that view would agree with the vast majority of the community. His remark “If those trails don’t meet his needs…” is also completely unsubstantiated by my article. I think the trail network here is amazing. What I’m against is incursions by the golf course into the existing trails.
Regarding Mr. Stam’s article:
If I put forward something in my article as fact which was not, I would be happy for Mr. Stam to provide a correction. I can’t see any place in his article that he does that. Mr. Stam is free to disagree with the opinions and personal impressions I expressed, but that does not make them “misinformation”. He seems to imply that I portrayed the Los Alamos Golf Association (LAGA) as a “mysterious and powerful group” when I did no such thing. All I did was report a remark made by a Parks and
Recreation Board (PRB) member during the recent meeting. Readers can draw their own conclusions regarding the influence LAGA may or may not have on board members and/or County staff.
Mr. Stam may wish to promote the idea that the golf course is “open space”, but in fact, it is not Open Space as defined by the County. From the County website: “Open Space” consists of areas of an undeveloped character where development is restricted or that are set aside for natural or cultural resource protection…” Also no motorized vehicles (which includes golf carts) are allowed. True, the golf course is open to the public about one quarter of the year, but that doesn’t make it Open Space. I am glad that the golf course is available to the school cross country teams. However, the proposed expansion of the golf course will do nothing to improve their experience.
As far as “ unsubstantiated hyperbole”, I used the phrase “uncounted millions” advisedly. The County can undoubtedly account for every dollar they spend from an accounting standpoint. However, the County is unable or unwilling to tell the public exactly how much tax money each facility costs. I addressed this issue in an earlier article: https://www.dropbox.com/s/0exj6bn4a1vybe0/WarrenLetter220717%20embedded%20photos.pdf?dl=0 . The County should supply this information to the public annually in an easy-to-find form.
Another thing the County doesn’t tell the public is the actual usage of each facility, including a break-down of what segments of the public (gender, age, socioeconomic standing, etc.) the facility serves. This data should guide the County when initiating and planning projects and in the distribution of tax money to the various facilities. The public also needs this data to determine whether the County is using our tax money in what the general public would consider a wise and fair manner.
If Mr. Stam has options other than the four offered, it would be good to hear them. Consultants provide options based on the requirements and parameters provided to them by the County. Since expansion of the golf course to accommodate a 320 yard driving range appeared in every option, I would presume that was one of the requirements presented. I believe that the County should have also asked the consultants to provide options based on the following requirement: Solve the safety and ADA issues in the least expensive way possible within the current boundaries of the golf course. We would then have quite different options and ones that more of the public would be willing to accept. The necessity for a 320 yard driving range should be very open to discussion. See this article on the average drive length for recreational golfers: https://www.golfdigest.com/story/how-far-do-average-golfers-really-hit-it-new-distance-data-will-surprise-you#:~:text=Thanks%20to%20the%20folks%20at,we%20finally%20have%20an%20idea.&text=At%20its%20core%2C%20the%20median,wedge%20at%20a%2073.97%20mark.
Possible solutions to shorter driving ranges should include increased netting and limited-flight range balls. Some golfers have objected to the limited-flight balls because they don’t have the same “feel” as those used on the course. The fact is that the regular range balls commonly used don’t have the same characteristics either. See this article: https://www.liveabout.com/range-balls-in-golf-1560969
And now the misquote: Nowhere in my article do I say anything about “old men”. The term I used was “adult males”. Since I am 8 years older than Mr. Stam, it is unlikely that I will be casting aspersions on our age group any time soon.