It’s kind of sad when editorialists, lacking something meaningful to say about an actual issue, manufacture a controversy and then make shit up to support an imaginary viewpoint. Such is the case in The City Paper
this morning on neighborhood NIMBYism, which builds an argument around serious distortions of neighborhood concerns regarding the new teacher training center in the old Eakin building:
CP: “There was quite a bit of carping and complaints from area residents about the project. Supposition that increased traffic and a loss of green space for neighbors to use — despite the fact this was already a school site — were at the top of the list.”
FACT: There was no “supposition” about either traffic or green space involved. It is indisputable that traffic and parking needs would expand significantly. An elementary school has proportionally few drivers/parkers (the vast majority of humans in the building being children who leave their cars at home), while an adult education center means everyone comes with a car. As for green space, MNPS at one point decided without consulting the community and without seriously exploring viable alternatives to eliminate the only playing field in the neighborhood to add surface parking.
CP: “In two very different parts of town two very different groups of people came to the same conclusion about what they did and did not want in their communities. In the case of the teacher training center, at least public officials already knew it was well within the public’s right to see this school built regardless of what neighborhood advocates had too say.”
FACT: First of all, there was never any significant opposition in the Eakin neighborhood to having the teacher training center. Second, there is no "right" to build a public facility in a neighborhood in any way or form that public officials fancy. The neighborhood concerns were about how the facility would handle traffic, parking, and green space. When neighbors complained, held public meetings, and even filed a lawsuit against the city regarding the project, it was not to make the thing go away; it was a legitimate set of efforts to compel the city to follow zoning laws and subarea plans in building it, and to follow through on promises to work with the neighborhood on details that affect neighborhood quality of life.
Perhaps City Paper
editorial writers would have been better informed had they bothered to read their own paper’s coverage of the story, which in January explained
the issues and mentioned neighbors’ desire for a negotiated compromise, and which last week reported
(as the new center was being dedicated) that “a settlement is in the works, with both sides having come to a mutually acceptable agreement...the relationship between the center and its neighbors is positive.”
This was a case where community members used legal and ethical means to try to induce the city to live up to the law and to its promises, and in doing so make an important project work for both the school system and the neighborhood. This is how these things should work; it is reckless driving without an editorial license to hold this up as an exemplar of NIMBYism gone amok.