• 22Sep

    Since the vote I have been contacted by 15 people in the Folwell neighborhood 7 in agreement with the decision, and 8 against. Only a couple people making personal attacks, but still disappointing. That kind of division lets me know this needs some more discussion. I would be lying if I said that every concern has been addressed, they haven’t. However infill projects seldom are perfect solutions. Community and neighborhood benefits and impacts certainly fall short of perfection, however I see them as being greater than both the status quo and other development in the area. In addition the project has the support of 3 neighborhood association presidents, Imagine Kutzky, CUDE, County Planning, City Engineering, and several (but admittedly a minority of) neighbors living in the neighborhood.

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    Final Decision:

    Approvals are (or should) always be based on whether evidence indicates the development meets the criteria for approval. Not everything was black & white but clearly the evidence in this case convinced the city council, staff, and long time neighborhood leaders that this project met all requirements. Read more…

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  • 06Feb

    I can’t begin to express how outstanding of an event Imagine Kutzky and neighbors put on at Forager Brewing around the topic of the St. Mary’s area.  I remain proud of my neighborhoods.

    Here is a link to the equally outstanding report.

    More than 100 people showed up, I would guess closer to 200 if you count the folks that came and decided it was too busy to stay. The comments were outstanding. Some of them conflict with each other, but in general people want a great neighborhood that prioritizes transit, pedestrians, and bikes. They want vibrant businesses and great public spaces. With the exception of 1 person (who I know) who wanted a 6 lane highway… I would personally lay down in front of the heavy equipment if that was happening.

    Also impressive was the community leaders that showed up. A majority of the city council showed up to listen. Attendees included myself, Mark Bilderback, Mark Hickey, and Nick Campion. In addition most of the DMC team also showed up to listen. I commend them on listening to what the neighborhood had to say. Leaders from the Kutzky Park, Folwell, and Historic Southwest Neighborhoods were also in attendance.

    City Administration, County Planning, and City Public works were not in attendance. A note I sent to meet with public works before the event was note returned.

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  • 17Jan

    Here is a little transparency on the St. Marys area discussion. If we kept up with our own recommendations for planning in the area we wouldn’t be struggling right now.

    Council

    I sent staff my concerns about our recent Holiday Inn meetings and wished to express the same concerns to the council as well. I believe that once again the lack of proactive city planning has led to a situation were rather than implementing a quality plan we are bending to accommodate whatever comes forward.

    Here are my concerns, you will notice that none of them are with the current project its self for which we are still in a quasi-judicial capacity. I see the TIF discussion as being unrelated to the project discussion.

    1) Small group meetings were held in secret away from public scrutiny – There were other topics discussed that clearly can’t be public at this point, but absolutely nothing was discussing regarding the Holiday Inn that could not be discussed in public. While this does not violate the open meeting law, I think it violates the spirit of transparency. Further it removes the ability of the council to interact and control the discussion. I also disagree with this, except when it is necessary.

    2) There seems to be a disconnect between the project needs a tunnel and we need to pay for a tunnel. As with all TIF in this project I will ask staff to show quantitate data justifying TIF before I am willing to support it.

    3) DMCC did the right thing – I appreciate their willingness to ensure that a project meets the design standards for a great neighborhood before supporting it.

    4) The parking bothers me some and I will ask for some independant guidance. The idea of using TIF to build private parking with private revenues but some public oversight is novel. It seems that the cost per spot might be better than we can get otherwise, but again quantitative data is needed.

    5) Planning, Planning, Planning – I have seen how flexible Larry has been to try to get things done. This tells me that if we had done a better job in creating a district plan ahead of time we would probably be done my now. Deciding on your infrastructure and design standards after a plan has been submitted is a terrible way to do business. Building a tunnel system around a connection to a single block that is cutoff from the rest of the area by utilities MAY be a bad practice (or it may not).

    6) Creating a great place – every time we have created a great public place, peace plaza for example the public has embraced it. St. Marys Place can be another great place, but only if the public spaces are inviting. Bisecting the area with fast moving traffic (4 adjacent lanes averaging 12′ apiece) will crush the neighborhood, tunnel or not. My goals would be 1) safety / connectivity 2) Neighborhood / Business Vibrancy 3) Everything else 4) L.O.S.

    7) I am asking some community volunteers to help me create an event to draw attention to the needs for better planning in this area.

    Read more…

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