Home > Crank, Editorial, Representing > What Are We Trying To Do With The West Boardman Lake Clusterf#@k?

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.)

BLA Crank

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.

The Designs


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.

A "No Road" Option Did Make It On The Wall and received lots of support (green dots).

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.

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  1. T. Werner
    March 23, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Comment specific to redevelopment.

    I had the impression going into last night’s meeting that high on the list of selling points for this road project was redevelopment of vacant land to bring businesses and housing to increase the city’s tax base. I was wrong. From the information shared, there is a small patch of land zoned for multi-unit housing, but it will be turned into a parking lot for the trailhead between 11th and 12th streets. The total of all the other land made available for development is less than 3 acres. Do to road setbacks and the stretched nature of the acres, maybe a drive through coffee shop could be built. That’s not much of a tax base, but it would help contribute to the “suburban” character that the city seems to be after.

    BLA is not providing access to 20 acres of property that will be the new home to businesses that will help Traverse City thrive over the next 50 years. Scratch the redevelopment selling point off the list.

  2. T. Werner
    March 23, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Comment on traffic volume.

    Shared at the meeting last night was traffic analysis of Corridor 9 from Mead & Hunt. Corridor 9 includes 14th St. from Division to Cass St., Cass St. to 8th St., and 8th St. east to its end. “There are two sections of this corridor that are projected to reach LOS F. They are the links on 14th St. from Division to Cass and 8th St. from Barlow to Garfield.” (LOS = Level of service, and F means a failing grade)

    BLA is meant to allow more traffic to flow between 14th and 8th, yet the automobile traffic is already about to get failing grades on 14th and 8th. Where is the overall vision? This can also be applied to those of us advocating traffic calming as a path forward. Shouldn’t we be taking a broader view and advocating for traffic calming along 14th and 8th as well? Wouldn’t calming traffic on these portions of Corridor 9 result in some traffic avoiding Corridor 9, part of which is Union and Cass.

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