Head-nod Approval from City Commission for #TCDivSt Recommendations
“Crossing Division and 14th St. is a nightmare. I don’t know if I’ll survive crossing that street two times a day.”
~ public comment by Marya Washington Tyler, who uses the intersection daily.
There isn’t too much to comment on from last night’s city commission study session reviewing the Division St. recommendations (posted here over the weekend). For the most part, city commissioners nodded in agreement that–“yes, Division is bad.” “Yes, something needs to be done.” “Yeah, someone will get to it.”
They received the recommendations without perceivable commitment, then listened to public comment in support of the recommendations & prompt action, and then they promised to revisit it in the near future. Fair enough, this isn’t exciting stuff (for some) and it was just a lowly study session. However, what wasn’t said was telling. I didn’t hear one of them say they would pick up where Mayor Chris Bzdok will leave off and champion this project. Most of the commissioners appeared to be looking around the room as if there was someone else responsible. I walked way with the impression that they see their role as watchdogs to make sure the Division St. project doesn’t get out of hand or include items they personally find objectionable.
(That comment may sting and doesn’t apply equally to all commissioners. I remind commissioners they are encouraged to contribute to this blog at anytime, either in comment or guest post. Or, meet with me anytime to clarify your position.)
Message to Commissioners: If Not You, Who?
I remind the commissioners, the Division Street steering committee, itself convened by the City Manager, consisted of citizen volunteers from all over the city and region, as well as representatives and city partners from area businesses, organizations, and governmental units. MDOT and the Grand Traverse County Road Commission were deeply involved. At its epic, there were over 40 people involved. The recommendations are well thought out and have broad appeal and application. And, they are only the start.
There are many reasons to do nothing on Division St; it is such a poor place for human beings that for longtime residents of the city, imagining something different is near impossible, let alone taking steps to change it. What we need now is a strong and responsive city commission to start moving on these recommendations as well as the modeling produced in 2010. Some of them will be more difficult than others, some of them won’t be achievable or even have noticeable effect, however, many of them are just waiting for the political will to carry out. For example, planting trees strategically along the tree-lawn can happen this fall or early spring 2012.
It’s not money at issue, it is interest, political will and leadership.
I echo what co-chair of the steering committee, Fred Schaafsma, ended his comments to the commissioners with last night, “I put this in your hands.” The responsibility is yours, city commissioners.
And, realistically, it is also ours. These recommendations are also now in the hands of the citizenry who will need to continue to provide the external energy to remind City staff and commission that these
demands requests are not going away. We need to remind, continually and from every corner, that we want what the steering committee drafted as its objective:
To change the character of Division Street to create a City Street that is:
- safer for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians to share, travel along, and to cross
- better fits the context of the city and its neighborhoods
- unites the east and west sides of the street, and
- creates the environment and driver behavior to insure that traffic speeds will be reduced to 30-mph. This must be a demonstrable requirement.