Should we continue with this idea? That was the question city staff was looking to the Astoria city council to answer last week after hearing a presentation on the proposed new library project.

The very rough numbers placed the potential cost at upward to $40 million, give or take a few million.

Should the city pursue an entirely new library? The price tag is breathtaking.

Cities have a responsibility to provide basic services. You need public safety agencies such as Police and Fire. You need to have a Public Works Department to keep infrastructure intact and working. Planning and Community Development keeps your city on track. You must have a Finance Department to ride herd.

Anything else is gravy.

However, it is those extras that speak to the character and livability of the town.

Thus endeth the civics lesson.

I don’t tell you these things to insult your intelligence but only to provide a basis for where I’m going with this piece.

In my previous post I wrote about the day-long tour I took Saturday of most of the Astoria Parks and Recreation facilities, parks and programs. It is clear that several recurring themes in council goals and decisions affecting administration over time have led us to build a much larger system than we should have to deal with.

It’s time to talk priorities. It may be painful. It will certainly be controversial.

After taking a day-long tour on Saturday with a few other hearty souls it became evident very quickly that Astoria's heavily subsidized parks and recreation department is groaning under the weight of public demand. While it is not unusual for government operated programs that are clearly lower priority to struggle in providing everything citizens ask for, this particular department has grown substantially over the last few years into an unwieldy animal that would tax the resources of a city easily twice the size of Astoria.

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