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Letters to the editor

Friday, October 5, 2012 - 12:01 am

State Boulevard expansion project should be halted

To: Fort Wayne Common Council members and Mayor Tom Henry

Re: City’s State Boulevard reconstruction project Wells/Cass Streets to Spy Run Avenue State Blvd Reconstruction – Des. No. 0400587

Dear representative of the people of Fort Wayne:

The city of Fort Wayne wants to expand State Boulevard into a primary east-west arterial corridor like Coliseum Boulevard and is currently preparing to widen State Boulevard’s two lanes between Wells Street and Spy Run Avenue to five lanes, straightening the carefully designed traffic-speedcalming curves over Spy Run Creek and through the celebrated National Register of Historic Places Brookview Neighborhood. The city plans to elevate the roadway 7-9 feet, turning this appealing residential district into yet another wide, fast urban highway. State Boulevard is an integral part of Fort Wayne’s acclaimed Parks and Boulevard System, recognized in its entirety on the National Register of Historic Places as the Park and Boulevard System Historic District.

This plan displays a failure of the public process. The city claims this project will address “safety and flooding” but has failed to demonstrate that either will be accomplished at a cost of more than $11 million public dollars. The decision-making used to arrive at this unsatisfactory proposal has been unclear, has alienated many of us who have sought input as engaged residents and has failed to address even basic issues about the project’s real impacts on our property values (and consequent impact on property tax revenue), land use, safety and flood control, and the character of our neighborhoods. The city’s Public Works Department has responded to our concerns only by holding public information meetings where we’ve been shown again and again the same “preliminary design” engineering drawings with no alternatives offered. The department has not altered its initial plan.

Our concern extends far beyond the additional dozen or so homes that would be razed, adding to the 26 or so recently demolished in the historic Brookview Neighborhood. Roadway design in this area affects the entire length of State Boulevard and the surrounding city. The current proposal will damage all of our property values and overall livability of the area. The decrease in property values will decrease property tax revenue, which will harm the entire city.

We predict a migration from the well-tended and well-loved center city historic core, fewer owner-occupied homes, decreased care of properties, blight and a decreased tax base for the city overall. Any road projects here must be carefully considered from a comprehensive perspective and understood for what they mean to the people of the community. We are gravely concerned about our property values; quality of life; city attractiveness; safety and transportation accessibility for uses that include local vehicles, biking, walking and public transit; coherence with unique historical character and distinctive natural features such as air, water, sound and light quality; and incorporation of meaningful flood control by identification of root causes.

This massive and poorly managed project should be halted immediately, and any plans to modify State Boulevard should begin anew, this time with a publicly transparent planning process which involves us — a working group of resident neighborhood leaders — along with elected representatives and urban planning, community, economic development, design professionals and others qualified and engaged to evaluate current conditions and the impacts presented by this massive proposed road project.

Michelle Briggs Wedaman, president, Brookview Neighborhood, 275 households and businesses

Paul Gibson, president, Irvington Park, 80 households

Marcia Simmons, president, Park Place Condominium Association, 175 households

John Meinzen, vice president, Spy Run Neighborhood Association, 500 households

Cynthia Keller, president, Northside Neighborhood Association, 4,000 households and businesses

Shawna Nicelley, president, Forest Park Boulevard, 66 households

Steve Morehead, president, North Anthony Area Association, 1,100 households and businesses

Helene Evans, president, Frances Slocum Association, 1,200 households and businesses

Evelyn Bickel, president, Brentwood Park Association, 290 households

Gretchen Johnson, president, Bloomingdale Neighborhood Association, 1,850 households and businesses

Judi Wire, president, The Wells Corridor Business Association, 50 businesses

Mike Reuille, president, North Franke Park Association, 450 households and businesses

Rick Stoeckley, president, Lincoln Park, 680 households

Linda Spurrier, president, Fall Creek Neighborhood, 107 households

Tom Tiernon, president, Historic Oakdale Neighborhood Association, 700 households

Common Core Curriculum more government intrusion

There is a new federal government educational program called the Common Core Curriculum that has been adopted in Indiana and is currently being implemented in the Fort Wayne Community Schools district. In addition any private schools accepting school vouchers will need to follow the program guidelines.

It may be news to many, as it appears the program was implemented without Congressional approval but simply by a new law written by the federal Department of Education intentionally to bypass Congress. Once again it seems we need to “pass a law before we know what is in it.” So far the research has revealed this program was designed to “dumb-down” our children.

The only states that opted out of entirely are Texas, Arkansas, Virginia and Utah. Maine opted out on English but not math. K-12 school teachers have validated what we have learned so far, and I am appalled that Indiana has signed on to this terrible educational program that only furthers more government intrusion. Do you know about the 2010 Fordham Institute report that showed that? Do you know that this program was not even piloted but signed off on blindly and simply appears to be just another “social experiment?” Do you know that this program mandates that teachers follow a script when teaching in their classrooms? If they don’t follow the script they are accused of being insubordinate? Do you know the teacher spends more time testing and assessing than teaching?

Also, there will be a “National Student Database System” whereby each state will collect information such as health history and academic performance. The students will provide more information such as how many live in their home, income and voting status. Why do they need this information? How often do we hear about such banks of information being breached? Again more government intrusion!

When are we going to stand for states’ rights as well as parents’ rights and demand the federal Department of Education be eliminated and our educational programs returned and decided by the citizens of the states? When are we going to tell the federal government, “We the parents” will decide by whom and what our children will be taught, what they eat and the activities they will participate in?

On Oct. 11 at 6:30 p.m. please come to the Classic Cafe at 4832 Hillegas Road where Sen. Dennis Kruse will speak on the Common Core Curriculum.

Pat Plesh

Being astute is looking at the the view of others

Most people learn two things from their parents. They are imprinted from birth by word, actions, attitudes and deeds as to their religious and political beliefs. They spend their entire lives listening, reading and pursuing only those views in others that reinforce their own.

They never dig deeply into their selves to explore whether this is really their own particular “right.” They never look into the great unknown of other beliefs or schools of thought to find the “rights” within those other beliefs.

I really vowed to myself that I would get through this presidential year without becoming thoroughly annoyed. Then I read the guest column by Howard Chapman. This man had the utter alacrity and incredible stupidity to define astuteness within his own narrow political perspective. Too bad for him.

Although it is his right to believe whatever he chooses, being astute is not found just within the narrow limits he outlines.

Dorothy E. Helmeczi