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City’s unfair claim of fairness

State Blvd. processes stacked

The city has recently asserted three times in our local newspapers, most recently in a guest editorial by a city official, that there have been 30 meetings about the State Boulevard widening. This, presumably, should satisfy those who read that the city has been open, friendly and forthcoming about this plan.

What city officials have not revealed is that these meetings take place after the fact; the engineering drawings have been under way for years with no citizen input; and affected citizens have been offered only one design solution with three trivial options. The city is going to considerable lengths to insist that this will not be a designated truck route, but no matter how one labels the plan, this widening of State Boulevard to four and sometimes five lanes, straightening it and raising its height will substantially alter physically the nationally significant Brookview neighborhood by removing homes and altering access.

At the same time, it will seriously increase traffic along the boulevard, affecting safety, downgrading property values and making it difficult for those who live along the corridor to get across it or to nearby commercial areas and schools. Traffic moves, and the increased congestion, noise and pollution along the corridor will have a cumulative negative effect on all the beautiful neighborhoods, parks and schools along State Boulevard.

It is not accidental that 15 neighborhoods have joined Brookview in opposing this project.

If the process had been fair, the city would have met with the neighbors and preservationists before the basic premise of the project was established and engineering drawings undertaken. If the process had been fair, three years ago, when objections and concerns first arose, the city would have taken them seriously. Instead, these concerns have been largely ignored, as the city and Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council undertook the engineering drawings.

Opposition is strong and well founded because the project is based on an out-of-date regional traffic plan and a very unfair process.

After years, the city is now using public meetings and private pressure on individual neighborhood leaders, not to work with neighbors and preservationists, but to justify this plan, malign its opponents and claim that there has been a fair process. However, simply because the city has presented at more than 30 meetings does not signify anything other than that the meetings have taken place.

There has been no attempt at a meaningful dialogue or to take into consideration the concerns of the neighbors, preservationists and citizens.

Certainly the last thing the city should be doing is making healthy neighborhoods at the heart of our city less attractive places to live. It is a contradiction to all the work and momentum going toward making downtown more attractive.

It is time for the city to revisit the need for this project and to take into consideration the serious harm that it will do to the fabric of our community.

Julie Donnell is president of Friends of the Parks of Allen County, Inc. Michael Galbraith is executive director of ARCH. They wrote this for The Journal Gazette.