The City of Sunnyside faces tight budget constraints and the allocation of funds to the Parks and Recreation Department is almost non-existent — revenue sources which would result in programs for local youth can no longer be ignored and need to be established.

Park and recreation departments are planned to contribute and support opportunities, programs and services to facilitate the development of adolescents. Programs help them develop into healthy and fully functioning adults. Services should help reduce problem behaviors, as well as increase pro-social attitudes and skills.

A youth development approach must be taken that involves adolescent learning and growing processes —they require opportunities to “develop themselves,” and they need adults to serve as providers in this process.

At the City Council Special Meeting on June 6, council members listened to community constituents voice their opinions about the Marijuana Control Ordinance during the public hearing. A diverse group of residents of all ages, participated in the process.

Following the public engagement, council discussed other issues about the benefits of lifting the prohibition of retail pot sales for the purpose of generating additional tax revenue and the possible opportunities for the entire city to benefit.

One of the areas identified by Council member James Restucci was how the City of Union Gap uses such revenues for their Park and Recreation Department’s wide range of programs and services.

In fact, Restucci informed the audience and council that he had made a public records request to find out just how much money Union Gap was making on retail marijuana sales.

He said the money represented real dollars and the revenue they received was about $350,000.

Based on the City of Sunnyside’s budget shortfall of revenues, there’s not much money in the general fund for Park & Rec. programs… a concern some council members addressed as they balance the pros and cons of issues, along with the overall benefit to the community.

Park and recreation departments have the potential for participants, families and the wider community to do more than keep children off the streets in a safe environment. They directly contribute to increasing positive and reducing negative behaviors, exposing youth to less violence, while improving children’s educational performance.

As summer is officially here in the Lower Yakima Valley, Sunnyside youth deserve to continue learning and growing in an environment which inspires achievements to excel outside the classroom — our youth deserve that opportunity and alternative funding sources must be created.

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