Council Member Gilmore:
I just found out disturbing news from our block grant community advisory chair that MDHA has halted construction on traffic bulbs that were approved for 5th Avenue between Garfield and Hume out of "deference" to the Metro Action Committee staff, who seem to be insisting that traffic calming measures not be installed in front of the old Fehr School Building in the public right-of-way. I have been an elected neighborhood representative to the CAC for three years, I have attended nearly all the public meetings, and I never witnessed or received feedback from a MAC staff member opposed to the project in all of that time. MDHA invited every Salemtown stakeholder to these meetings and MAC has stayed away.
With publicity, you sought and received Metro Council acceptance of the block grant over a year ago, at which time MAC had an opportunity to give feedback, and I see no evidence that they bothered to speak out against any part of the project until after construction has started. MAC is engaging in arbitrary and capricious behavior if the reports I hear are true.
Frankly, Metro Action has had three years and one council meeting to address the Salemtown streetscape project, and for them to come in last minute and object is bad faith and poor citizenship. It is a slap in the face of their neighbors who have worked so hard on this. I understand that MDHA halted work on the traffic calming measures as a special favor for a Metro department. Yet, no other occupant on 5th Avenue would be able to receive special favors if they protested. I'd like to know why MAC is more privileged than any of the rest of us who have invested our energies in this neighborhood, often without any assistance from MAC?
I pick up their clients' trash thrown from their cars in front of my house because they refuse responsibility for any litter off the Fehr campus. I have had to shield my 5-year-old daughter's eyes from MAC clients urinating on the sidewalks. If I have to put up with these indignities because of MAC's occupation of the Fehr building, it seems to me that they should put up with curb bulb-outs in the right-of-way that serve to calm traffic and to discourage Werthan Packaging's 18-wheelers from using the neighborhood as a cut through. We are a walking neighborhood with lots of kids, and we certainly don't require Metro workers who drive in from elsewhere torpedoing our efforts to slow down traffic and to enhance the quality of life.
I am upset that MAC has acquired this kind of control over our neighborhood. They seem to operate by their own rules and make no apologies for it. I have lived here almost 5 years now and I have been accepting of social services located in neighborhoods up until the point that the agency providing the services starts behaving callously and irresponsibly toward its neighbors. Giving them a special exception to step in and alter our carefully considered streetscape plan at will only empowers MAC to continue to be brazen and boorish toward Salemtown.
I'm asking you to step in and to prompt MAC to be more neighborly and to encourage MDHA to complete the plan endorsed by this neighborhood without any further delay using funds authorized by the Metro Council a year ago. We have lost time on this project because of the bureaucratic errors of another Metro department (Public Works, which misplaced our application). Please do everything you can to insure that we will not lose any more time due to Metro Action's errors in judgment.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Not only did I write this to District 19's Erica Gilmore, but I copied to Cynthia Croom and Karen Crook at the Metro Action Commission, to Salemtown project leader Linda Howard at MDHA, and to Brady Banks at the Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods (the Purcell MOON would have followed up on this; since it's the first time I'm corresponding with the Dean MOON on a neighborhood issue, I'm not sure what if anything they'll do to find a solution to the mess that has been made of the Salemtown block grant):