Guest Column: Despite Island issues, so much to be thankful for

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David N. Young

So far, this year has, without a doubt, has been one of the more memorable years in the history of Catalina Island. Sure, there are major challenges facing its leadership. Obviously, the uncertain future of the iconic theatre and other problems associated with aging infrastructure is a concern. And, as always, there are pressing political issues related to finance that are putting extra pressure on the island.

Yet, while there has been much strife on the island of late, it is always good to give thanks for the many blessings and good things related to this wonderful island.

In my opinion, the storied history of this remarkable place contributes so much to the folklore of Hollywood, the entrepreneurship of Wrigley and its example of a can-do American spirit deserves so much more consideration that it gets from state and federal officials.

Of course, there are going to be problems. When it takes a 90-minute boat ride to reach this part of America, everything becomes more difficult. The cost of construction goes up. The cost of food and medicine has the extra bit of cost for transportation, etc.

Catalina, however, like the rest of the America, is in a slow, but unmistakable, generational transition. As the new generation slowly takes hold, cultural differences will only add to the public discourse and other problems that exist. And, even with the added friction of private ownership vs. public interest, this transition will be undeterred.

That being said, Catalina Island will likely handle these challenges, over the long-term, with relative ease, just like it has done in generations past.

As dark as the skies at any given moment, when balanced, the challenges are seemingly far outweighed by the benefits of Catalina Island. This year alone, let’s examine what’s happened. NASA has discovered that the rock and geologic formations around the island offer clues to deep space like nowhere else on earth. The historic Atwater Hotel was reopened after being renovated to its classic majesty. The U.S. Marines lined the runways as the Wrigley’s vintage DC-3 landed to a new runway that will open the island to air travel for the foreseeable future.

The Catalina Island Medical Center had a breakthrough contribution of land from the Island Company. The Chimes Tower raised enough money to install lighting sufficient to bathe the historic site in light to welcome visitors into the future.

The library reopened; bigger, modern and ready for to provide Islanders with information for the future. Von’s Supermarket brought modern grocery shopping to the island. The football team had a great run. Rosie is still having dinner parties, etc. etc.

Upon reflection, there is so much to celebrate.

It’s easy to get lost in the myriad of issues that face Catalina Island but much harder to resist the island’s one-of-a-kind atmosphere. Things will change. They must. Change is never easy but always necessary. The differences on Catalina at the moment, are to be expected, and generally indicates there is a deep discussion unpinning the island’s future. Though it sometimes looks cloudy, it is, in the end, perhaps a very good thing that disagreements are being debated.

Everyone who sets foot on Catalina, for any reason, enters one of the most special places on earth. It didn’t happen overnight and in fact, the Casino will enjoy a Centennial celebration in the coming decade.

As Thanksgiving trails off and we enter the holiday season, the “magic” of Catalina will endure.

Those of us lucky enough to have experienced the island at all are very grateful for that gift.

Happy Holidays and bring on 2020.

David N. Young is a former editor of the Catalina Islander.

Guest Column: Despite Island issues, so much to be thankful for