ON THE AVENUES: The usual suspects, and a future held hostage.

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ON THE AVENUES: The usual suspects, and a future held hostage.

By ROGER BAYLOR

Local Columnist



Community Park Developers LLC’s plans would include the entire 18-acre tract. James L. Shireman, Larry Timperman and John W. Lopp make up Community Park Developers. The three propose that their development would create 520 jobs, provide about $100,000 in tax revenue for the county each year and as much as $1 million or more after all lots are sold.

News and Tribune

520 jobs at a strip mall, generating only $100,000?

Am I supposed to laugh, or cry?

Hello?

There are the times when you look at the acreage and occupants comprising the places where you live and work, and you say to yourself (but only after a snort of very strong drink): Seriously, the only thing that can possibly explain this degree of absurdity is an overall genetic deficiency.

Truly, it must be something in the water.

As my blogging colleague Bluegill noted yesterday, it’s the usual suspects, all the way across the board.

It’s the same so-called thinking downtown (River View, anyone?), as the same purported thinking along the Grant Line corridor, to the effect that the same exurban developers, and the same feather-bedded architects, make a proposal to the same tired political functionaries, the latter representing the same two clueless political power-sharers, and we decide, without voting, to chew up and spit out some of the last remaining green space inside the beltway for the same short-term development to benefit the same inveterate, eternal, close-minded small-timers as always.

Yes, there is another proposal on the table, and it would protect a portion of the open character of the land. Label me unimpressed, because two options are two options: Black, or white. This, or that. Democrat, or Republican. Does anyone have a bucket?

Moreover, given the almost laughable non-choice being offered, why am I the one declared “toxic” for asking questions like this one: Why can’t there be a third option that calls for leaving the space clean and green, at a time when we continue to battle the storm-water implications of rampant pavement?

Why must there be another parking lot?

I believe that in large measure, the current New Albany-Floyd County Parks Board has the best interest of Floyd County’s park system in mind. I accept that high on its list of priorities is preserving the territorial integrity of the existing parks. When Scott Klink, the board’s president, and other correspondents say they do not favor yielding park lands to variously conjectured proposals for sale and development, I take their protestations at face value, even as I cock an eyebrow and wonder if a future Little League baseball complex is their ultimate goal for Community Park.

I like baseball, but doubt if that’s the answer, either.

But it is a measure of the suspicion and non-transparency enveloping this topic that in defense of its laudable goals, the Parks Board chose its own somewhat less than transparent strategy during the most recent state legislative session, by persuading State Representative Ed Clere to introduce a parks district law behind the backs of the city’s and county’s elected officials.

Such a district would take the county’s parks entirely out of the jurisdiction of elected officials, as well as provide funding from tax revenues outside the reach of their grasping hands.

And yet, the parks district surprise attack may have seemed like the only viable option available to the Parks Board, given persistent insinuations (some would say, “threats”) made by certain elected officials whose names begin with Ted to the effect that lacking the political courage to tax the populace, they’d happily develop parklands to resolve short-term funding problems.

When the county’s planner, Don Lopp, began running interference for his paymasters in recent comments right here at this blog, the course became considerably more obvious. I’d say Lopp’s circuitous logic surely outed the political Philistines in the county, except there was no need for outing; they’d have sold the Community Park frontage already if the recession hadn’t intervened, and have said so often enough.

We’d have another dollar store, another chain restaurant, and another flea market, sans any commensurate uptick in political courage on the part of our masters … except that they’re no masters of mine, and it saying so aloud makes me toxic, then so be it.

In the end, amid the lies, threats and unreconstructed, pure dullness of the folks we’ve elected to chart the future, there finally is revealed an instance when Ed Clere might have been of some use to the citizenry.

Rather than same armchairs in the back room, he might have expended mere farthings of his voluminous political capital, gone to the residents of the county with the case for a “pledge” on the part of elected officials in New Albany and Floyd County, and made the case that “green” is a unifying theme.

Something like this:

“We recognize the value of green space, and will eschew short term gains by observing the long term benefits of our parks. The territorial integrity of the NA-FC parks system will be preserved, even as we seek to expand these boundaries.”

Or something like that. Alas, even if Rep. Clere had taken the high road, I can no easier imagine either Doug England or Ted Heavrin saying these words than I can picture me drinking an ice-cold Miller Lite.

The mayor would flip Valley View at the drop of a hat, and Heavrin, the county council president for life, reappointed to office after electoral defeat by a party hierarchy that lives in the 1940’s, would do the same with the Community Park frontage.

I don’t mind pointing it out: Damn, we’re dumbasses here in New Albany and Floyd County. It is really in the water, or is there something we can do about it?

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