Editorial: Say no to vendors in our parks

Commercialism surrounds us at almost every point in our daily lives, whether it’s a grocery store, a garden outlet or a shop selling dog leashes.

Most ubiquitous are the food merchants, from all manner of fast-food outlets and coffee shops to fine food restaurants.

Our parks are among the few places where the push to purchase, to consume, is absent. A park is an oasis of trees and grass and birds and squirrels and, in some cases, a river.

It’s an oasis worth preserving.

The Bend Park & Recreation District board is considering a policy that would give park access to some vendors, both roaming ones such as ice cream trucks and others that might set up stationary locations to sell their wares.

The board decided Tuesday to delay a decision on a proposal to allow one food and drink vendor each at Riverbend, McKay and Drake parks. The idea is to experiment with just a few parks before any further expansion of the policy.

Board members discussed various challenges, including how to decide which vendors would be permitted and how long contracts would last. They chose to delay a decision to allow further research on the details involved in such a policy change.

The district now allows only one vendor, Sun Country Tours, which rents recreation equipment such as inner tubes and paddleboards at Riverbend Park. That’s a uniquely suitable service that enhances visitors’ opportunity to enjoy the river.

That doesn’t mean, however, that we need other commercial outlets in our parks.

Water fountains can slake the thirst of those who failed to carry a water bottle, and an old-fashioned picnic satisfies those who want to eat surrounded by nature. A little planning ahead can take care of the need for a sun hat or sunscreen.

When the board meets next on July 16, we urge them to focus on our parks’ unique value as an oasis in the middle of our hyper-commercial world.

Just say no.