Park District Recommendations From Architect; Professional Community Planner

I invite many others to join me in voting NO on the East Lansing ballot proposal to sell three city-owned parking lots. East Lansing Concerned Citizens a group with no special financial interests other than long term well-being of our community, takes no position on the vote but offers useful information for voters to consider at a Forum on Thursday evening at the Library. Meanwhile individual members of ELCC bring objective analysis and credible opinions to the complexities involved with the vote.

I find the uncertainties about selling the land, and the supposed redevelopments that might occur by way of the sale, are too undefined to justify a YES vote. For a DIFFERENT PACKAGE -- selling only lots 4 and 8 -- I could vote yes to lead the way toward improvements, first by removal of the old vacant buildings. Then there could be developments with buildings scaled down to better size for East Lansing and in line with realistic market demands. Extension of Albert St. to smooth out east-west circulation could then take place.

Give only those steps, ALL THE REST of the proposed Park District redevelopment could WAIT until a time when other needs and demands are more clearly seen and brought together into a real plan of workable, integrated parts, instead of what's being shown that just tosses together overblown projects of doubtful need. Since the project proposed at Abbot-Grand River is projected to provide its own underground parking, the massive, intrusive and costly parking structure on Evergreen would not need to be built.

There's reassurance for a NO vote by remembering past NO votes on major issues which were ultimately productive for our community by producing revisions that were passed later. Almost forgotten now is the NO vote on the huge Dayton-Hudson shopping center proposed on Lake Lansing Rd. That NO vote opened the way for the more neighborly Meijer and Kroger stores to be built, and the Hampton Inn and numerous vital small establishments now there. And some of us remember the NO vote when massive relocation and rebuilding were proposed for the High School. That NO vote resulted in change of plans which were approved by a second vote for the more satisfactory redevelopment where the school was and is now. Recently NO votes of City Council against City Center II ended some of the excesses that were proposed but had gone nowhere for TEN YEARS! Today we'd be glad to see some ways for the Park District plan area to be dealt with in ways that would make for real improvements.

I'm distressed that in any present plans there's NEGLECT of the long ALLEY west of Abbot Rd. Drive through it today and see for yourself, all the way from Fern St. to Albert Ave. We would do better to recognize it and improve it for WHAT IT IS: an important SERVICE DRIVE for many properties with frontages on Abbot or Evergreen, and it's the ONLY access to some of them. Yet it remains as a 17 ft. wide one-way-only "back alley" between Abbot and Evergreen. Recognizing it as a service drive, it would mark the TERMINATION of the west edge of Downtown, a clear DIVIDING LINE between Downtown land uses and residential lands to the west, and should be IMPROVED TO FUNCTION AS SUCH and upgraded over the long term to serve what's there.

I'm hoping our fine young city planners can do a real job, leading development past the overblown fantasies of CCII, and actually guide realistic development to take place, not just cater to whatever is presented by developers.

Steve Osborn

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