Thursday, March 20, 2008

Why I support the FCC plans for the Barr Property

The Planning Commission will meet on Monday night 7 pm, in the Bryan Center; we will once again be considering the Friends Care Community plans for the Barr property on the corner of Xenia and Limestone.

I plan to support this plan, although I agree with many residents that it is not perfect. A resident whom I respect very much left the note at my home, and, after all that I've read about this property and these plans, this writer sums up my feelings very well:

"Dear Lori: I am not savvy about writing or emailing Council or Planning Commission as a group, so I will leave this note at your home.

My request is that we do everything wise and possible to make the Barr property Senior Housing apartments happen. While it is not large enough to accommodate every senior household looking for in-village center living, it is a terrific step forward.

As my 84-year-old mother has had to give up driving she has become homebound and somewhat isolated. Mom lives in a bustling suburban area where going out the door to 'take a walk' is not safe. While she lives in a setting that provides lonely meals and many amenities, she is virtually a prisoner of her home. Family members visit her frequently and take her visiting, shopping and to medical appointments. However, she has lost so much spontineity (sp?--sorry!), independence, and confidence because she cannot simply walk down the street on her own.

I am not a perfectionist. My view is generally what can we do with the resources available within the time frame allowed? Usually the outcome is pretty great. If we focus on the architecture more than the lives of our citizens, we will fail our community.

Make no mistake--this is a selfish interest as well. Though [my partner] and I own a home within 'walking distance' of downtown... we often use our autos to move around the village. If the day comes when we must release use of personal cars or caring for the yard and garden are not practical anymore, I truly hope the options of applying for a residence on the Barr property is an option! When it comes down to it all of our villagers need that option, sooner or later.

It will not only be frustrating but heart breaking if this golden opportunity slips from our grasp."

I am concerned that, particularly in this instance, we not place largely aesthetic concerns, which are of course fairly subjective--and nevertheless important--over the needs of real people for affordable, centrally located housing. Many villagers have spoken to me over the past few weeks, particularly elderly residents for whom this housing is desperately needed, for all the reasons so simply stated in the letter I copied above.

I realize that not all of you agree with this stance, but I must vote my conscience. Nevertheless, I welcome hearing thoughts on all sides of this issue, and hope to see many of you at the meeting on Monday night.

Environmental Commission will be meeting next Thursday; we'll be discussing the "death of the incandescent bulb" and our efforts to speed its demise!


Lauren Miller said...

It concerns me that you have already made and posted your stance of support for a project prior to the upcoming public hearing scheduled April 14th. I ask that you keep an open mind in order to hear all the varying input about the potential Barr development. While I am among many who support the idea of additional senior housing close to downtown, the specific plan that FCC has developed continues to have numerous issues I have a problem with. . .including, but not limited to: compatablity with the neighboring residents/structures, density nearly twice allowable by code, poorly designed senior housing with the absence of amenities, stress on sewer system, true affordability (?), the destruction of the historic building on the intended site, for example.
I do believe that with the encouragement of the Planning Commission, YS residents and potentially the Village Council, FCC may become more willing to compremise on several important matters many have had a problem with. Your support towards compremise could be more helpful to getting this project "on the ground" than your postion of simple support. Please give this some consideration. Lauren Miller

Lori Askeland said...

Hi, Lauren, and, sincerely, thanks for your comments. I realize that it does take courage to state and sign your views in a public forum.

I take seriously your concern about publicizing my views on this issue. Here's my perspective. First, let me be clear: I meant it when I said in my original comments that I agree that the current plan is "not perfect" and that, although I'm being clear with the public about where I currently stand, "I welcome hearing thoughts on all sides of this issue."

One of the things I based my candidacy on was the need for increased density as a response to sprawl and on a goal of smart growth, based on in-fill development within our current village boundaries. This plan, to my mind, fits with those philosophies quite well.

Additionally, I have been looking carefully at these plans, have been reading the documents provided to me from various parties, pro and con, and have been engaged with the public on this plan since early in this year.

We have had three public discussions at Planning Commission on the FCC's ideas for this property, at least one of which was an official public hearing. The FCC has made some substantive changes in shape and layout, which is why some of those meetings could not be considered public hearings, as was planned. But there have been, in this time, no significant changes on the issues you're specifically addressing--density, sewage, etc.

Since I published my stance on this issue I have heard from all sides of the issue--including clear and articulate arguments from villagers who are concerned about many of the issues you raise here.

I take them seriously and work hard to consider each one on its merits, and in relation to the plan as I have studied it, and the best interests of the village, as I understand them, now and in the future.

As I mentioned, I knew that my stance would not be shared by all villagers, nor even by all of the people who supported by candidacy: I actually felt I owed it to those supporters to make clear what I was thinking about this issue, and why. That way, they could better make their own political decisions--about whether and how to engage in further dialogue, about whether to show up to meetings, etc.

I did not want whatever vote I take to come as a surprise to them.

So I appreciate your thoughts, and thank you for taking the time to share them with me.