Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Remember the time we saved the park from the evil developers who wanted to run a concrete trail through the only remaining greenspace in this part of town? How we had reached a compromise with the City on allowing a multi-use bicycle/walking trail, which we want and badly need, to run along the west side of the creek where it would be sheltered from view and preserve the bucolic nature of the east side of the creek?

Well, the final planning report came out last week providing all the details of the trails. According to the report, "After many community meetings and site visits, a compromise alignment was reached . . . In summary, the community concerns were discussed and balanced as part of the conversation about the design and alignment of the trail project."

But here's the funny part - the final report goes on to describe the trial routing as follows: "[The trail] continues through Tanyard Creek Park (currently proposed running closely along the eastern edge of the creek through Tanyard Creek Park) and bridges across to the north side of Tanyard Creek (at about the location of the existing pedestrian bridge)."

Well, that's not the compromise route at all - that's the exact proposal we had protested to start with! The compromise route was to cross the creek as soon as it entered the park, and to then run along the western edge of the creek through the remainder of the park. I left a message with the City planner responsible for the report, and then I alerted the local friends-of-the-park group about the discrepancy.

I got an apologetic call back from the planner the next day, saying that I was correct - the east side was not the compromise route - and that the trail route described in the text was a "typo." In an email reply to the friends of the park, he said it was "legacy language" left over from earlier drafts of the report. It's hard to fathom how they could have overlooked such a sensitive detail, and I wonder how they would have proceeded if I hadn't brought the issue to their attention. Since our conversation, though, I've noticed that several maps in the final report still show the "legacy," not the compromise, route. I've also noticed some discrepancies in zoning recommendations in nearby areas.

Tonight was the monthly meeting of the neighborhood alliance. I updated the alliance on my activities in regard to this matter, and presented a draft letter for the President of the alliance to send to the City in support of the compromise route and in protest of the zoning discrepancies. The presentation and draft letter were well received. I also encouraged the alliance to follow up on the recommendations of the Health Impact Assessment of the local hospital on the community.

Today's civics lesson: you can fight City Hall, but even if you win, never, ever take your eye off the prize, even for a nanosecond, or the prize may disappear.

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