Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mr. Gahan, complete these streets.

In Monday's edition (January 28) of the 'Bama Fried Chicken Pop Up Gazette, Randy Smith's letter to the editor finally was published.

You read it here at NAC first, on the 20th, several days after he submitted it to the newspaper.

NAC Guest Columnist Randy Smith: "Don’t Rush to Build Outdoor Swimming Pool."

But do the people of New Albany need, or even want, a new outdoor pool? As we blow through the second decade of the 21st Century, is building a swimming pool a legitimate and equitable use of tax money?

If my chronology's right, Randy submitted the letter just before Chris Morris editorialized in favor of an aquatic center on a "quality of life" basis (on January 17). Well, I suppose they have to get topic ideas somewhere, don't they?

Speaking of ideas, over at the newspaper's web site, "Eric" takes issue with Randy's reasoning.

No one, least of all the mayor, is thinking in terms of 'political capital' here. Unlike most local pols, Gahan is actually thinking outside the city-govt bubble about ideas that will actually benefit residents of New Albany. Everyone else has moved on from 2011. It's 2013, Randy. Join us. The water's fine.

I agree with Randy that it's perfectly legitimate to ask for evidence of a public groundswell in favor of aquatics.

Show me, Eric. If it's really there, I'll take it into account, but I don't hear the clamor.

NAC did not agree with every move of the mayor's during the first year of his term, but we've found more to like than dislike. In our view, if the administration really intends to think "outside the city-govt bubble," it should begin with a top-to-bottom rethink of the city's street grid, because virtually all city residents use the street grid every day, but the street grid is not organized (it is profoundly disorganized) to meet the needs of all city residents, i.e., those who are not driving cars.

Before the meeting, let's think about differing qualities of life.

Rather, it’s this persistent, unquestioned notion on the part of self-assigned movers and shakers that the highest civic priority when it comes to “quality-of-life” issues is the same old kneejerk-as-usual pablum: The benign “niceness” of swimming and baseball, and the accompanying tendency of the powers that be to lapse into dazed stupor at the very suggestion that prioritizing basic everyday infrastructures of living, from transport to design to neighborhoods, addresses “quality-of-life” issues far more comprehensively than parks and recreation force-fed into a vacuum.

One last piece of reading for Eric, Chris and the mayor's team. Maybe I'll submit a letter to the newspaper ... postdated for March.

Random 2013 Platform Goals 1: Toll Free New Albany and all it entails, ASAP.

During Year Two of the Gahan administration, articulating and implementing a program of evolution toward complete streets in New Albany is a policy that can address multiple needs with one throw.

1. Complete streets are a means of transforming the urban street grid into a diverse, human friendly mechanism for growth.

2. This enhances prospects for the further expansion of retail, offices and even housing downtown, and of connecting downtown to outlying areas by means of the Greenway and other routes radiating outward.

3. Critically, boldness is needed right now, because the closer we get to a tolling regime on some Ohio River Bridges and not on others (read: Sherman Minton), the more likely that New Albany's current one-way street grid reverts to abuse by no-stop pass-throughs to the detriment of any human scale reform. It is time to act.


Iamhoosier said...

I think using "public groundswell" is the veritable slippery slope. Even though I agree about eliminating one way streets and fixing our grid, I'm not hearing "public groundswell" about that, either.

One other thought about the pool and ballparks, I'd like to hear from some people who have children that may, or may not, use these facilities. It's pretty easy for those of us without children to say these things aren't needed.

The New Albanian said...

True story: The moment I pressed "publish," I thought: Mark's going to call me out on this one.

I agree to the extent that as non-parents, our ears may not be listening to the proper ground.

But there's an added element to complete streets absent from the "quality of life" angle in whatever form. That's the impending dislocations of the bridges project.

Iamhoosier said...

Agreed. It's not completely an apple to apple comparison.

(Glad I didn't disappoint)

Jeff Gillenwater said...

"Groundswell" may not be the word, but I have regularly heard support for reclaiming our two-way streets in various quarters for years. It's been favorably and openly discussed in merchant meetings, by neighborhood groups, etc. Possible two-way reclamation was even included in the Fed's latest consideration of ORBP.

There may or may not be similar support of a water park/pool. I think it's fair to ask, though.

Personally, I'd like to know the downtown location under consideration. If we do it, it would makes sense to put it within walking distance of restaurants, shops, the library, museums, etc.. It would also make sense to make sure those areas are as walkable as possible, hence complete streets as a precursor to pretty much everything else.

Iamhoosier said...

I think Randy has good questions and points to consider outside of the "groundswell" approach. I wonder if he also has thoughts on the Little League park.