I am aware that others have written eloquently on this subject, most particularly, Richard Atkinson. However, I feel compelled to add my own voice to what has become an unfortunately divisive issue.
I am one of those terrible “doughnut” people described by Jan Metzmaker. Seven years ago, after spending a week skiing on the mountain and experiencing the glorious wonders of Whitefish and Glacier National Park, I decided to build a home here and I now spend close to half the year in Whitefish.
Having been raised by a father who taught me always to give back to the community in which I live, I began making commitments to Whitefish institutions. In fact, I notified a number of cultural institutions in St. Louis where I have made my permanent home for more than 40 years that they would no longer be receiving annual support from me and explained why.
I have supported the North Valley Hospital with a significant gift to the capital campaign, the Alpine Theatre Company as one of the founders, the Middle School Auditorium, the Big Mountain Fire Department, the Glacier National Park Fund, the North Valley Music School, the Whitefish Theater Company, the Flathead Valley Ski Foundation and most significantly, the Glacier Symphony Orchestra and Chorale. I have given my time to certain of these organizations, most notably the Glacier Symphony. Giving time is crucial and I believe that the leaders of the Glacier Symphony would agree that I have helped to spearhead their recent fundraising efforts by hosting events at my home as well as making significant financial contributions.
Imagine my amazement when I read Ms. Metzmaker’s “In My View” in the Whitefish Pilot – a piece that is mean-spirited, short-sighted, ignorant and borders on utter incompetence. Further imagine my distress when I learned that this woman is the executive director of the Whitefish Visitor’s Bureau and receives $40,000 per year from Montana taxpayers. It is also my understanding that she plans to play a significant role in the Glacier Park Centennial. Her demeanor suggests that she is unsuited for either position and she should be asked to resign. Failing that, she should be recalled or fired.
Which brings me to this preposterous argument about the “doughnut” itself and to the shortsightedness of the Whitefish City Council in passing the critical areas ordinance that will have significant impact on landowners in the doughnut. I’m sure your more thoughtful readers will recall the Boston Tea Party, provoked by the British government’s imposition of taxes on the American colonists – taxation without representation was the cry of the day and it led to the American Revolution. I hope we can resolve what has become an absurd argument without a revolution but with people like Ms. Metzmaker leading the charge, I am beginning to doubt it.
Make no mistake, I am sympathetic with those who wish to preserve the uniqueness of Whitefish as an amazing and wonderful community with bountiful resources for its citizens and to those who want to preserve and protect the quality of our water. However, I have no sympathy for the litany of grievances against those in the “doughnut” as outlined by Ms. Metzmaker. They imply a total lack of understanding of the many contributions made by those living in the “doughnut” both by the payment of large property taxes and by their many charitable contributions.
Would Ms. Metzmaker be happier if we all moved out and never returned? I think she would. In that case we could eliminate the need for the Whitefish Visitor’s Bureau. Perhaps she would like Whitefish to stand still in time and once again become Stumptown.
Virginia Weldon lives in Whitefish and St. Louis
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