Jan 22, 2012
Misguided Park Priorities
The plan to turn one lane of both Linden and Turner Streets into bike paths, through center city, casts a spot light on current Park Department thinking. If ever there was an idea that was devoid of reality, and which ignores the welfare of the vast majority of citizens, that may well be it. In addition to affecting the two sides of Allen High School, Central Elementary School would also be adversely impacted. Those familiar with center city know that double parkers already have largely reduced traffic to one lane, never mind the pending Arena traffic. This bike plan is a component of the Trail Network Plan, which has dominated the park agenda for the last several years. It caters exclusively to the cycling enthusiasts, paving the existing paths and connecting the parks with more bike paths. This past fall a group of concerned citizens surveyed the iconic WPA stone Structures within our park system. The cyclists may be peddling too fast to notice the state of disrepair that has overcome these monuments. Last summer, a City Councilman agreed to vote for the Trail Network Plan, with the understanding that a set of stone steps on Jerome Street, at Irving Park, would be fixed. The Park Department then removed the steps; I suppose that's a fix of sorts. One of the stone pillars on the Union Terrace Amphitheater stage is being undermined by the stream. The grand stairwell at Fountain Park has numerous missing steps. While millions of dollars have been sought for the cycling plan, the stone structures are approaching the point of no return. While I wish the cyclists enjoyable use of the parks, the Park Director and Mayor must realize that the young and the old, and other passive users, are also entitled to enjoy the parks. They are entitled to sit a bench and enjoy the view . They are entitled to explore the stone structures with their grandchildren, safely, on maintained steps and walls. These structures defined our park system long before the current Administration. We have too many plans for new venues in this city, while our history is literally crumbling. We don't just need more new ribbons to cut, we also need to maintain those things which made us unique.
The above piece, under a different title, appeared January 21, 2012, on The Morning Call opinion page.