Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · In TC: Division Street proposal...
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In TC: Division Street proposal 1

4 community leaders weigh in on road plan

Northern Express Community - October 22nd, 2012  

If you've ever tried crossing Division Street as a pedestrian, or have endured its half-mile-long traffic jams during rush hour, you know that this is a highway in need of re-invention.

TC Proposition 1 offers a solution 'down the road,' but would involve giving up a strip of parkland along Division. The proposal has aroused passions both for and against. Following are the thoughts of four noteworthy citizens:

Vote Yes for a safer street

By Raymond Minervini II

Traverse City has many qualities and features that make it a wonderful place to live, work and visit. Division Street is not one of them.

The street has some of the area’s highest traffic counts, it is noisy, its traffic is often too fast or too slow, people find it very difficult to travel along or cross on foot or bike, and its intersections have the most crashes of any street in the city. In short, the dominant characteristics of the street divide and devalue the adjoining neighborhoods and parks. We need a Division Street that is better and safer for all users.

Continuing a multi-year community process, Traverse City commissioners made a commitment last spring to make Division safer, starting with short-term, lower-cost solutions like speed radar signs and better sidewalks. They also pledged to start the long-term planning and design process with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the agency that manages the street as part of US31 / M37.

The first part of Division Street under consideration for redesign is between 14th and 8th Streets, which is hemmed in by houses on the east and park land on the west. To begin the long-term process of environmental study and redesign of the street, Traverse City voters must first assure MDOT that they are not wasting time and money if they initiate studies and plans for improvements that may require more space than the existing right of way. That is the reason for Traverse City Proposal 1.

Because the potential wider right-of-way includes a strip of city park land up to 30 feet wide, with some additional property at the corner of 11th Street (about 1.65 acres total), a vote of the people is required for the possible future “disposition” of park land.

Note: no park land will be transferred with approval of this proposal. No city tax dollars will be spent. No additional through lanes will be permitted.

What a yes vote will do is start several years of public input and review and collaboration with the city and MDOT toward the goal of a better, safer street. The state recently adopted a “complete streets” policy that directs MDOT to include citizen input and community values in their designs. We will need to stay involved and engaged as a community, so our voices are heard and our values represented. The current street right-of-way will change only if a future city commission, within the next 10 years, accepts a street redesign plan from MDOT.

I believe Traverse City is much better than the Division Street we have today. If we want our children and grandchildren to enjoy a better street that provides safer connections to our neighbors, we need to start the MDOT process now. I encourage Traverse City residents to vote “Yes” on City Proposal 1 to take the next step toward a better, safer Division Street.

Raymond Minervini II is a member of the Minervini Group responsible for the redevelopment of Building 50 and the Grand Traverse Commons.

Don't Trust MDOT

By Jim Tompkins

Please vote “no” on City Proposal 1 on November 6. Proposal 1 is a request by the T.C. City Commission to approve using 30 feet of parkland on the west side of Division Street from 8th to 14th Street for future use by the MDOT for highway improvements (read: more asphalt and possible roundabouts), If approved, this blank check would be for a 10-year period. We would

then have to rely on MDOT and a future city commission to approve a plan which is endorsed by a majority of city residents. I don’t think that entrusting MDOT and a city commission of the future is very good business on our part. A blank check to a city commission with some members that may not even live in T.C. presently, might even be considered a form of community suicide.

We must have at least a conceptual plan before we vote and approve a blank check for use of city parkland for 10 years into the future.

A recent mailer from supporters of Proposal 1 says only, “vote for a safer Division Street.” There's no mention of giving up 30 feet of parkland; no mention of a probable widening of Division Street by at least one additional lane for turning; no mention that one roundabout is included in the recent study of Division Street and no mention that the approval of using parkland for highway purposes will be in effect for 10 years.

The supporters know that if we understand these provisions, most people would vote “no.”

In the 1990s residents crushed a similar proposal for Front Street from Garfield to the Holiday Inn. Until we see a conceptual plan, please vote “no” on City Proposal 1, to retain control of our community.

Jim Tompkins is a former TC Clerk, City Commissioner, and three-time Mayor.

Vote Yes for a better road

By Carol Hale

In 1980, this community rescued three buildings which were to be demolished on the State of Michigan hospital grounds. This started a long process which involved the community in a concerted effort to maintain the historic buildings and grounds for many years. The process has not been easy or for the faint-hearted.

Part of this future-looking solution was to give most of the open space at the grounds to the City of Traverse City and Garfield Township.

Today, we have conflicts with traffic, pedestrian access and alternative transportation in crossing Division. These problems are undeniable for all who travel Division or on 11th Street west of Division. The success of the redevelopment of the Commons by the Minervini Group, TBA, the Green Spire School, various commercial endeavors, and the expansion of our largest employer, Munson Health Care are evident in this traffic corridor and state highway.

Now we are asked to allow minor acreage at the corner of 11th and Division to allow a solution to the problem.

Plans for the future are dependant upon knowing that this small acreage will be available to the City and to the State to plan for the best future for this intersection.

Without a yes vote on this possibility, there will be no future solution to this dangerous intersection.

Carol Hale is a former TC mayor who, along with several like-minded citizens, is credited with having saved Building 50 and its cottages from the wrecking ball during her tenure as a city commissioner in the 1980s.

Vote 'Hell No' on a bad plan

By Grant Parsons

A City ballot proposal asks whether Traverse City voters will donate parkland to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to widen Division Street. The answer should be “no” – preferably “hell no.” Paving parkland to widen a street is akin to killing trout to provide habitat for zebra mussels.

MDOT wants to pave parkland to widen a short stretch of Division between 14th and 8th streets, but MDOT won’t disclose any actual plan. It’s the “trust me” model of big government.

City voters deserve clear answers to tough questions. How will the widening affect the neighborhoods bordering Division? Will cars cut through? How will neighborhood walkers cross a wider Division? What happens to the traffic when Division narrows again at 8th Street? More cars make more noise; what’s the solution to the noise issue?

The City administration supports this pig-in-a-poke scheme because they say Division Street is a mess. No surprise there; City planners made it that way. Expansion at Munson, and the new CVS big box store at Division and Front, for example, just recently added more traffic. You shouldn’t “plan” a mess and then ask residents to sell their park to solve the mess.

With no plan, how can MDOT be trusted? Consider other MDOT engineering 'successes' – South Airport, Acme, Chum’s Corner, Division and Grandview, Front St. at the Holiday Inn – where none but the foolhardy dare cross.

Dangerous roadways don’t just “happen” -- they’re designed by MDOT.

Traverse City parkland enjoys a special, historical status. The City Charter (sec. 126) protects all parklands by requiring a 3/5 vote before parkland can be sold.

Parkland has profound, practical value.

It slows things down, gives you a place to sit or your dog a place to run, encourages reflection, promotes wildlife, promotes kids getting outside to play, and ultimately, demands the best effort from City planners to preserve what is best about the City – the outdoors “Up North” identity.

Division Street is the entry to the City.

Should it look like an extension of Garfield Township’s commercial blight, or should it announce the cool City with a tree canopy and greenery?

In 1986 voters said “no” when the City administration tried to give away Clinch Park parkland to a mall developer. That land is now home to the Farmers Market. A few years later, City voters plunked almost 80% – what I call a “hell no” vote – when the City tried to give away part of Sunset Park and Senior Center Park to widen Front Street.

Conversely, when the City asked voters to add parkland, they approved: The Open Space (the cornerstone of downtown culture), the old C&O spur (comprising most of the West End beachfront), Hull Park (Boardman Lake’s gorgeous reincarnation) as well as others.

Neighbors live in neighborhoods; transient drivers don’t. Neighbors pay high taxes for high quality. Transient drivers’ ease should not take priority over residents.

Donate parkland? No plan, no answers, so please vote “no” – preferably “hell no.”

Grant Parsons is a TC attorney with an interest in local issues.

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