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BLA Poll Results And A Friday Morning Crank

Graphic Friday

Well, here we have it–another poll that won’t do much to move the discussion forward. Seriously, the City Commissioners should already know that there is a vocal minority pushing for the West Boardman Lake Ave. while many more have serious concerns about its construction, design, effectiveness, process and lasting impact.

Placing too much value in the neighborhood petition/poll being conducted by passionate proponents for the bypass is a political statement, just like the poll above. We all have a right to participate in such an action. It’s fundamental to democracy. But at the end of the day, it has little bearing on the merits and demerits of the W. Boardman Lake Ave. If we wanted to design the city by popular pulse of the City, than we’d hold a referendum; I trust that our elected representatives understand this.

Andrew's University BLA Concept

The City Commission has voted to not purchase the Copy Central property. This doesn’t drop the BLA, but it eliminates intersection options on 8th St. It’s worth noting that the since its inception, the West Boardman Lake Avenue has continually had limitations get in the way of what was once conceivably a good idea.

At one point, it was conceived as a mixed-use boulevard that connected to 8th St. via a bridge at the current Boardman Ave. as well as to multiple points along the grid. It now has become a half mile bypass disconnected from the grid, with little adjacent infill and with disastrous design limitations to control speeds and to intersect at 8th St. Arguably, at one time it added value to the entire city. The current concept promises the same, but delivers nothing more than lowering the cost of driving through the City while providing a beautiful view over Boardman Lake for morning motorists.

All of  us care deeply about the direction of the City and maintaining, and improving, the quality of life of its citizens. As we move forward, I trust that this debate can be based on informed consent that is gained through a transparent process and a solid understanding of what it is we are trying to serve and what we are creating for the future.

I’m opposed to W. Boardman Lake Ave. as it is designed today and because the assumptions for how it will improve the City have not been remotely proven, nor have the negative consequences been adequately addressed.

I agree with the comment made on the above poll by Katie: “I voted ‘no’ on the proposed road, and will continue to do so until such a time that there is a clear demonstration that it is in the best interest of THE WHOLE CITY–all residents, all traffic (both car, bike, and foot), that are here today and yet to come.

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Really, if we are to be asking questions, let’s ask something like:

Would you rather spend $2 million dollars building another road, that may or may not address some resident concerns, or do we want to spend $2 million dollars creating a place where motor traffic is welcome, provided for, but that doesn’t dictate the character of our city?

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POLL RESULTS: The Poll was live for 3 days with 51 total respondents. 48 responded “No”, 6 responded “Yes” and 2 took the time to respond “What’s the BLA?” 5 people left comments that will remain online.

  1. noji
    May 13, 2011 at 10:26 am

    I would have voted no if I could, but it seemed javascript was required to use the poll and I keep javascript turned off. I do use that trail back there all the time, for walking or biking. What we need is an extension of the TART around the lake, not yet another road. No, the city does NOT need another road. I can’t believe this is even being discussed still. It should be a non-issue. There are other ways to slow down and tame traffic through neighborhoods and it’s not through building yet another road.

    And furthermore why in the world would be put a throughput type road next to a beautiful lake scene? How stupid could we be to do such a thing? It will devalue the city in general. Maybe we could put the money to better use, such as helping the numerous homeless currently living around Boardman Lake.

    If this roadway is to be built come hell or high water it should be put to a citizen vote. It should not be determined solely by people living in the central neighborhood. They are not the only stakeholders involved!

  2. Mike Grant
    May 13, 2011 at 10:58 am

    As I understand it, the original proposal for BLA was that it would complement what was intended to be a higher density residential project on the west side of Boardman Lake. As that area has been built out, however, there is no need for BLA to serve that development as it’s served by 14th Street. And, what hasn’t been developed for condos is now being sold off as lots for single-family homes. Again, which will be served by 14th Street and not benefit nor depend on the construction of anything like a BLA.

    In my opinion, this may have been a lost opportunity to leverage public financing of infrastructure in order to build a higher-density, mixed-use project on the shores of Boardman Lake. But, now years later, who knows if the zoning, financing, politics, engineering, etc., could ever have been aligned to make that sort of development happen. Or if the market would have supported it.

    But, also in my opinion, the currently proposed BLA is only detrimental to the current and most likely future uses of that west side of Boardman Lake. Because it is designed with only one goal in mind: move cars as fast as possible between 8th Street and 14th. Period. Grandview Parkway II anyone?

    MG

  3. Brian H
    May 13, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Like anyone else who has bought a house in Old Town in the last 20 years, we knew what the traffic was like before we bought our house near Cass.

    This morning, my wife took our 2 yo daughter and dog for a walk to meet the local mom’s group. Where did they meet? The bench at the top of the hill along the TART trail by Oryana so that they could all walk down to the Boardman Lake together. That narrow strip of land at the top of the hill is a huge asset to the neighborhood and entire community.

    We voted ‘no’ on both the neighborhood and Gary’s survey. The city and the few vocal proponents on Union St have failed to demonstrate how this road will benefit the entire city, or even have an effect on traffic in Old Town.

  4. james b
    May 13, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Sorry G, I didn’t take the poll, so count one more for against the BLA as currently designed.

    Commenter rant:
    I’m still stuck on the fact that the current funding structure for the BLA is a “sprawl incentive” – city residents are paying for infrastructure that encourages people to live outside of the city.

    There’s an opportunity cost to using TIF dollars to build the road. We could use them on projects where there’s a clear benefit to many city residents, or we can spend it on infrastructure that will mainly be used by people living outside the city.

    The 2nd option creates an incentive to live outside the city since the city residents are paying for the infrastructure. Old Town residents may benefit, but with a tangible and intangible cost. The township residents will benefit greatly at very little cost to them. BTW – by encourage more people to live outside of town – you also get more traffic.

    Most people say they don’t want sprawl. Yet we continue to make decisions that encourage people to live outside of town and not balance out payment of the infrastructure used. You could offset those incentives by encouraging transit use, but I don’t see that happening either.

    I drove down Cass today and it took me about 2 minutes to get from 14th to State. Design Cass as a neighborhood street and it would take 15-20 minutes for that same route. If it took me 20 min, I would no longer be driving down Cass. Would you?

    If there was a clearly defined recreation plan for that area of the lake, and it happened to include a road, that would be a better use of TIF funds. That is in my humble opinion as an official new TC resident.

    Anyone see where I’m coming from on that?

  5. May 13, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    The 10-20 minutes is likely a little long. Really, adding traffic calming may or may not make it take considerably longer. The “cost” would be more perception than anything else. Likely the difference between 2min and 3 or 4 minutes. Traffic calming Cass St. may actually be a wash for the motorist. Done correctly it should just ease the flow and calm behaviors, while reducing negative effects and scaring away the heavy-footed motorists.

  6. Mike Grant
    May 13, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    One of the practical challenges is that the County brownfield authority is, I believe, majority non-City people. And I’m guessing (and I say this off the cuff, without even knowing who’s on it currently) based on the fact that they recently amended the brownfield plan for that area and, I believe, didn’t make any changes in terms of funding for BLA, that a majority of the people on the authority would support BLA as it is currently designed.

    Not that non-City people would be inherently opposed to projects that primarily benefit the City. But something tells me that it’s going to be a tough sell to non-City folks to devote that money to some other purpose, especially some purpose that might make it more difficult for non-City residents to cut across TC as quickly as they do today. Ie, funding traffic calming projects.

    So here’s a political/practical question, then, how do you get the County brownfield authority to devote those funds to something else, and something else within the boundaries of that TIF district? Or, how do you enlarge the TIF district to possibly include other areas of need (like 8th Street)?

    Because unless something changes in terms of either the make-up of the brownfield authority, the brownfield plan itself, and/or the boundaries of the brownfield area (or BLA is built), there will continue to be a big pot of money that is purposed to building BLA. And there will continue to be people in Old Town motivated to demand BLA, unless/until the City does something else to remedy the traffic on Cass.

    MG

  7. james b
    May 13, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Sure.

    I guess I see calmed behavior as slower driving. I see slower driving as increased cost-of-travel. I see increased COT as reduction in traffic. Which I thought was the goal.

    I think there are more benefits than the one’s you mentioned. But, then again, we don’t know exactly what those benefits will be. We’re not testing – which we could do, cheaply.

  8. james b
    May 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    And, if even if the City does something else to remedy the traffic, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Brownfield Auth. will be less interested in the BLA.

    Interesting MG.

  9. Greg
    May 13, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Why not build a bridge over Boardman Lake. This would make it easier to go East / West across town

  10. May 14, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I’m not sure if you are being serious or throwing out a non sequitur. The latest survey of U.S. bridges should be alarm enough for us not to consider this:
    http://t4america.org/resources/bridges/

    We can’t afford more of the same.

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