Saturday, September 19, 2009

Roads Dividing Our Community: A tale of two different neighborhoods

Tale #1: Reconnecting Downtown Vancouver with the Historic Reserve

An important piece of the proposed improvements of the Columbia River Crossing include the ‘Community Connector,’ otherwise known as a ‘cap’ or ‘lid’ over the freeway, located at the Evergreen Blvd. overpass.

As part of the environmental mitigation for the Columbia River Crossing project, a cap over a section the new freeway will be incorporated into the design. Years ago, the I-5 corridor ripped through downtown Vancouver and separated the core downtown area from the Historic Reserve and the Clark College area. This cap will be a beautiful park space that will provide the mandatory environmental mitigation to offset the impacts of the massive pavement project.

But even more important, it will return a link between the two sides of downtown. From the Reserve running west over the freeway, and meeting up with the new library, we'll see a pleasant, walkable connection between east and west, past and present.

I fully support this cap, and think that it will be an important part of the bridge project, even as the cost is scaled down and we find an affordable project that doesn't penalize our citizens for having to commute to Portland for work.

Tale #2: Dividing Neighborhoods and Killing Joe’s Farm

As our population has grown over the years, 18th Street has become an increasingly congested and dangerous thoroughfare. An improvement project has been envisioned for decades now, including safe pedestrian and bike passage, as well as five (5) lanes for vehicular traffic.

Unfortunately, the proposed five-lane project cannot be accommodated without gutting Joe's Place Farms and isolating the Landover-Sharmel neighborhood. In no uncertain terms, Joe Beaudoin testified at a recent City Council meeting, if the project moves forward as presently designed, Joe’s Place Farms will be no more.

If you haven't been to Joe's Place, at 112th Avenue and 18th Street, I strongly encourage you to go. Whether you prefer fresh-picked blueberries in the summer or pumpkins and hot apple cider in the fall, Joe and Gayle have an incredible spread and bring a little piece of the country right into the heart of our city.

In both the Landover-Sharmel and First Place neighborhoods, Vancouver's strong sense of community and livability is regularly on display. Not just in the great people you meet if you visit, but in exciting projects like the new neighborhood entryway, that was collaboratively created and constructed by neighbors, friends, and students, with support from the Bonneville Power Administration. Many residents, particularly in Landover-Sharmel, have called that neighborhood their home for decades, and have enjoyed one of the last bastions of ‘rural’ feel in our city.

Joe's Place and those neighborhoods are just two of the great gems that make up our community and remind me why I love this town so much.

Unfortunately, both are threatened by a street-widening project that will, physically, tear the community apart.

Tim’s Response: We Can Do BETTER!

Doorbelling over the past five months, I have listened to many stories of frustration about the lack of attention from our current mayor, the disappointment with continual development of subdivisions and strip malls, and the anger over obligations promised but never delivered upon after annexation some 10+ years ago.

On several occasions, my opponent has publicly stated that “East Vancouver is on auto-pilot,” Revealing his lack of regard for the city’s east side. But it’s not just words that expose his unfortunate attitude about 2/3 of our city; his actions are even more revealing!

While I have been fighting for reconsideration and reduction of the proposed five-lane arterial; while I’ve been fighting to preserve the integrity of the Landover-Sharmel neighborhood; while I’ve been fighting for sustainability, urban forestry (many old growth trees will be removed due to the scale of the widening), and preservation of Joe’s Place Farms and the healthy eating afforded by urban farming; and while I’ve been fighting to prioritize walking, biking and connection of a regional trail system FIRST, before increasing vehicle traffic and congestion….the current mayor hasn’t blinked an eye at the thought of ending Joe’s Place Farms and forever changing the unique character of the Landover-Sharmel neighborhood.

We can do better for our neighborhoods, for sustainability, for urban forestry and for the viability of Joe’s Place.

Just because “this is how we’ve always done it”, doesn’t mean it is the right way to do it for the future. We need fresh eyes and fresh perspective to face the challenges of today as well as tomorrow. This is what we can do. This will move Vancouver forward and to a stronger sense of community.

1 comment:

Steve Doerk said...

Good to see this entry. I just passed Joe's Place Farms tonight and read the signs signaling the end of the farm if the city continues on its present course. I believe at not time in the past have we found a need to work with what we have, to expand upon what has already been done and to get to a point of internal sustainment (economically and employment wise) before we really overspend on all of these white elephant projects. While the bridge may be an important regional economic project, I admit that I differ in the light rail opinion with you in that the amount needed to expand this 'tour bus to Portland' could be used to bolster city services. We had a birthday party/picnic for my 9 year old today at Hagen Park. One of the newest parks with nice facilities, a covered eating area and nice new play area, I had to discuss what the KKK is, what racial slander is and try to make some sense to her as to why someone needed to write about the Crips and swear so much on the metallic surfaces. I took photo's and will send those in to the city, but with there severely limited resources and manpower shortage they may or may not be able to ever get to that clean up request. I will probably try to get my cub scouts over to the park for a service project, but some of that money being earmarked for these big ticket over the top projects could be used to clean and maintain these public properties before they completely fall apart. But hey, that's just one man's opinion!