Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Don't cheap out at the Ballard Locks

The august U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could not be so dense as to pinch pennies during boating season at Ballard's Hiram M. Chittenden Locks.

Yet that is exactly the worry of area boaters who fear budget cuts that might eliminate seasonal positions during the hectic summer months.

A relative handful of extra employees keep the Locks orderly and safe during those nautical traffic jams going and coming from Lake Washington to Puget Sound.

Why would any public agency pick a highly visible task to get chintzy with tax dollars? This is a dumb public-relations choice beyond the basic issue of boating safety.

Imagine the thoughts running through the minds of smoldering pleasure boaters. Let's see, what else is part of the corps' mission? Oh yes, running those fish-killing dams on the Columbia River. There's a foundation on which to build rapport.

The corps is doing a little dance suggesting the cuts might not be final or that everything will be OK if they are. This discussion should not be happening at all.

Staff the Chittenden Locks so boaters can enjoy a treasured time of year with as few hassles as possible.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company


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