Mar 3, 2010
Addressed To City Council
This evening, you will hear testimony from various people enthusiastic about the cure-all called the Trail Network Plan. My fellow blogger, Andrew Kleiner, believes it is the lighthouse for a new awareness of our environment. Recreation (and park) Director Weitzel sees it saving our children from obesity. The Greeenway Consultant has promised economic recovery for the City.
I am unable to attend the meeting; Please forgive the presumption that some of you may read my opinion here on this blog, and a sincere thank you if you do. Not that many months ago, a huge crowd gathered in the Council Chamber to express their dissatisfaction with the Cedar Park Plans. Mr. Weitzel claimed that the public was missing in action from the planning meetings; they were johnny come lately then. Once again the public input process raises more questions than it answers. Although the third and final meeting was properly publicized in January, few public knew about or attended the previous meetings. The plan seems particularly orientated to bicyclists, raising many concerns to everyone else who enjoys walking, or just strolling on the paths. Although bicycles are now accommodated, does it serve the greater public's interest to have many more cyclists? Safety concerns have been raised about the preference for hard-surface trails, which will encourage even faster cycling.
I was especially upset at the January meeting to see that the grand stairways leading up from Fountain Park to Union Street, and then up to Spring Garden Street, were not included in the planning. The consultants touted how their plan would connect the intercity residents to the park system, while these steps were built and used for that exact purpose. But most disturbing, is that I realize we are building more, while not maintaining what we already have. Will this plan distract both our attention and resources from properly maintaining our existing park features?
Council Members acknowledged that the Cedar Park Plans got ahead of their oversight. I respectfully ask you now to consider not allowing that situation to repeat itself; The commotion from last summer is avoidable. Our park department currently has 17 less workers; we can build more with grants, but can we maintain more? Legitimate concerns have been raised about encouraging faster bicycle use on the paths, and the paving and widening of the paths. Let us slow down and smell the coming spring flowers. You have heard from the Park Department, the paid consultants, the cyclist lobby; give the general public more of an opportunity, it is really their parks.