I had no plans to write an editorial today, but I decided to pen this quick piece after some conversations I had today.
Multiple times today, I have been approached by people in our community in regards to the Thompson Park pool closing. Mostly, the feedback has been negative, but I have seen on social media, some individuals explaining why they agree with the closing of the Thompson Park pool. Both sides of this argument should be respected and heard, as citizens seek answers and attempt to find their own convictions on this important issue.
The disturbing thing I have seen in all of this, though, is the stretches of truth that have happened during this debate. I have seen individuals from both sides of the aisle attempt to mislead others on this issue, and I have even witnessed certain government officials attempting to silence opinions that are unfavorable toward the city.
I want to address one argument I heard from those who support the closing. Some have said since voters voted down Proposition 4 in 2016, which would have provided improvements on some parks, then voters are getting what they deserve with the pool closing. This is an interesting point of view, but the most important thing to note on this is that Proposition 4 did not address the Thompson Park pool renovations in any way, shape, or manner. Just because certain individuals may be bitter because of the failure of their highly-expensive effort to force voters to pass these bonds, that is no reason to spread false information.
An argument I have heard from those who oppose the closing is that the money that could have been spent on the pool was spent on the ballpark. I have not seen anything that leads me to believe money spent on the ballpark was supposed to be spent on the pool. I agree that downtown has become over-prioritized by the City, and a sense of tunnel vision has been created, but the issue at hand is the Thompson Park pool.
As I mentioned above, I have also heard individuals trying to silence opinions. I disagree with many opinions expressed on this issue, chiefly those that claim the pool closing was right. I wholeheartedly disagree with the decision to close the Thompson Park pool, but whatever your stance is, this is no reason to attempt to silence voices. Regardless of whether you are a private citizen or government employee, you should be willing to respect the process enough to let this debate play out on the public stage. Especially for any local government or government official, you should respect the opinions of citizens and respect the process that is plays out in the public dialogue. Your job is not to change the narrative just because you may or may not like what is being said. One of the hallmarks of our republic is the ability to speak freely and address our government on serious issues such as this one. That is a trait that we would do well to uphold.
I feel that I have made my position very clear. I feel the City of Amarillo and the Amarillo City Council have treated citizens with contempt on this issue and have seemed almost completely disinterested in the public’s feedback. Many of you may disagree with me, and that’s fine. But, regardless of wherever you land on this issue, let’s have a friendly dialogue. We can get emotional and disagree, which I am sure that we will. But, in all things, let’s approach this issue with a sense of respect for our fellow Amarilloans. At the end of the day, we all live here, and that’s what counts.
-Thomas Warren III, Editor-in-Chief