What Are We Trying To Do With The West Boardman Lake Clusterf#@k?
UPDATED 03/25 11:45: Clarification Added
NOTE: This is not a comprehensive re-cap of last night’s meeting, nor is it an attempt at providing news. Rather, it is a slightly cranky, head-cold influenced
reflection of last night’s process and the information provided [reaction to the over-all approach to the BLA project. Citizens have been continually told, for at least the last year, that the decision to build a road hasn’t been made, yet over that year everything has been lining us up to do just that while the same questions continue to be unanswered.] (updated)
This a call out for your own reflections on the Boardman Lake Ave. project (whether you were their last night or not). You can leave those as a comment here or perhaps you’d like to contribute a post. For, against or something else entirely is all good. Also, it is a big reminder that there is need for public input before and at future planning commission and city commission meetings (information on those forthcoming.)
The turnout at the St. Francis High School cafeteria last night was robust. Numbers were comparable, if not more than, the estimated 80 people who showed at the previous Boardman Lake Ave./Development input session a month ago. The results of that process were once again reviewed, but what was missing was any clarity in the answers requested. For the most part, the input of opportunity and issues was merely organized into four categories for further discussion: data, environmental/place, plans & design and city-wide impacts.
For example, under the classification of “plans/design” the top opportunity/issue raised in February was for a traffic calming plan for Cass St. and Union St. to be explored. Basically, improve the roads we have before building a new one. There was no additional information to that concern last night other than that it falls outside of the purview of the BLA district.
A tie for the most raised opportunity/issue under “plans/design” is that there is no proof that the Boardman Lake Ave. will reduce traffic in Old Town. It is an assumption that suffices for many, but for many others, the pattern of success isn’t there. There is a real concern that 5-10 years from now the additional generated trips and increased traffic will simply leave the community with another arterial and a divide while Cass St. remains the same.
Instead, many people want to see a plan to reduce dependency on single occupant vehicles traveling to and through the City. Again, left out of the discussion last night. I get it, it is difficult community discussion, but the assumption that we have to continually attempt to subsidize increased motorized traffic, with all of its associated externalized problems isn’t a neutral starting point. We can choose what level of service we subsidize as a community.
Last night residents were presented with an array of design options for the proposed Boardman Lake Ave. none of which reflect this as anything other than a road to facilitate automobile traffic. Yes, there are trails and there is a plan to improve the natural setting along the shoreline of the lake; those all can and should happen regardless of the road. They are already happening.
The contentious point remains Boardman Lake Avenue. and none of the road designs (concepts really) last night were awe-inspiring. It still appears to be a difficult stretch to keep speeds at 25-mph or under in large part because there is no development along it other than a mandatory fence between the road and the railway. So, it’s not enough that we get the blight of a road and motorized traffic next to Boardman Lake, we also have to accept an ugly fence that will only increase in ugliness over-time. Lovely addition to the neighborhood.
Absent from the design selection last night was a “no road-fix the current roads option.” Why is their such a reluctance by City staff and officials to champion that message forward? Simply because it hasn’t been possible for the last 20 years needn’t be a reason not to try now to reduce the problems using aggressive traffic calming measures and the politically difficult, but repeatedly suggested, opening up of our lovely grid. Yes, those one-way streets need to go.
There are plenty of questions remaining. Too many to list here. The results from last night will be made available in the coming weeks and we will revisit it then.
In the meantime, where is the proof that its construction will achieve the stated goal? Last night, the only stated goal was ameliorating the problems associated with motorized traffic in Old Town neighborhood. Does a new road do that? More broadly, how does that reflect the values of the community?
As well, and something raised after the meeting last night, what is this? Is it a road project? Or is it a redevelopment project? It’s unclear and the process for either, from the beginning, long before this week, is flawed.