Commentary: Smoketown Deserves Good Development
All communities — including Smoketown — deserve good development. And that’s not solely defined by the physical quality of a structure, but how that structure emerges, matures, and functions in a community.
Here’s what I mean by that.
Good development emerges in conversations with the community — engaging neighbors early in the planning process. Good development matures as community concerns are investigated and addressed. Good development functions in alignment with the community’s collective vision, while stimulating economic growth and increasing property values.
Good development cannot achieve all these things without key players building healthy and authentic relationships with residents.
People who live, worship and work in Smoketown understand the need for MSD’s CSO Basin on Logan Street. We, too, want to prevent flooding and help improve our sewer and overflow systems.
We’re just asking for good development to be part of that.
We want what every other neighborhood that’s getting this kind of basin wants: a park, a community space, an asset. What we don’t want is a massive, windowless, industrial complex with 12-15 foot walls and a chain link fence.
Between the many issues with outreach, notification and the ethically lopsided home damage claims process, how could a person not feel frustrated and disappointed?
Mayor Greg Fischer has come out strongly as an advocate of Smoketown, and MSD's executive director intends to present our case to the agency's board on Monday. He'll propose building the basin underground and putting a park on top.
Now, we’re very aware that there's no guarantee the board will allow the current site design to change. But we’ve been assured it’s not too late.
MSD also told us there’d be a $700,000 budget in place for park design and amenities, should the board respond in our favor.
As we wait to hear back from the board, I invite MSD and allies of Smoketown to reflect on how we got here. Between the protests and outrage, what are the root causes of the conflict in this situation? How might have MSD and Smoketown fostered a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship early on in the development process?
It is in all our best interests — economically, ethically and civically — to learn from this situation. Learn from this situation and apply that knowledge to policy.
Together we can plant seeds to make good development the standard for projects funded by our tax dollars. Because let’s face it, good development is smart development.
Jessica Bellamy is a board member of the Smoketown Neighborhood Association.