Letter to the Editor: Does Parking Lot Project Put Safety First?

Is anybody out there paying attention? Plantings vs. People = Winning new design for DeForest Parking lots! (The following letter was sent to City Administrator Chris Cotter)

To Chris Cotter:  

I ask that you share the following letter with the Mayor and Council.  Yesterday morning, as I was leaving Walkwell Shoes via the back entrance, I saw a frail and elderly friend trying to make her way to Liss Pharmacy via the alleyway.  She was stopped by the newly constructed barrier of curbstone created to protect the dirt for future plantings (I guess?), then a two foot wide section of dirt, and yet a second barrier of curbstone created as a further protection for plantings and as a barrier to the alleyway and the shops that line it. Interestingly, city workers were right there continuing to work with a truck parked nearly behind her car, and no assistance was forthcoming.

I climbed up to my friend, and assisted her down to the alley, then to the drugstore, then to the Summit Food Market, and finally back to her car, which she could barely remove due to the city's parked truck. My friend, a resident of 50 years+, asked, "What is happening to Summit?  Doesn't anybody care?  How am I supposed to get to the drugstore?  To the shops on Springfield Avenue?"  

Honestly, do you, do the Mayor and Council understand even one of the many unintended consequences of this poorly thought-out new "parking experience" fiasco?

The owner of a shop we passed is one of many who derided this project as "The worst thing Summit has ever done!"  It would appear that the city's officials are paying more attention to plants than to people and shoppers - this after taking down many wonderful shade trees in the existing lots.  I understand that some thought is now being given to permitting a single access point to the alleyway in each of the lots - and if that is the case, IT IS STILL INADEQUATE!!

The first lesson that all physicians learn is "FIRST DO NO HARM".  I believe this should be a lesson for ALL of us, and especially for our elected officials.  This parking lot project will do harm to our neighbors, our downtown businesses, our shoppers, our community. What happens to the handicapped neighbor who needs to get to their downtown pharmacy, and other stores?  With tens of thousands of dollars being spent on an ill-conceived project, at the very least can't some of those dollars be allocated to the safety and convenience of our citizens?


— Phyllis Sank


AStar Gazer October 07, 2012 at 09:43 AM
Don't know who did the design work, but it does not meet Federal and State ADA requirements. The City should hire an outside consultant to review the entire plan and make appropriate changes, and do it quickly before the City gets sued, as I am sure that will happen.
Robert Steelman October 07, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Dear Ms. Sank Surprisingly I share some of your concerns. Not all. First, I’m happy you addressed your letter to Chris Cotter. His responsiveness to shortfalls in management decision-making and staff sensitivity to the public is worth noting. The argument of “planters vs. people” should be viewed in the context of Summit’s sidewalk tree-well system with poured concrete curbs capable of stopping child-strollers, pedestrians and soil erosion. Same thinking. No question, among other issues, pedestrian movement from the newly remodeled parking lots needs to be addressed. As to your more provocative statements, others may see things differently. The improved parking lots with a smooth surface, adequate stall sizes and double four inch lines with a four inch space between them makes parking effortless. Hardly a fiasco. To criticize the parking change in terms that suggests Summit is faced with a decline in character or civility does not seem to be coming from a place of love for community. And any attempt to put your opinion on all neighbors, downtown businesses and shopper-visitors is a touch overreaching. That's my opinion.
T Durden October 08, 2012 at 12:02 AM
...hhhmmmm...worst thing summit has ever done?...a little premature no?...i believe it's hundreds of thousands of $$ not just thousands of $$... but hey what's a few hundred thousand (or 800k) between friends on our council...my issue remains if this project will generate the rev/cf our elected beings have claimed...also this thing still has a stench of a regressive tax....the larger issue is the transparency of this 7-0 council and mayor...oh wait I meant 6-1 council...have to have a nay vote once in awhile for posterity sake....when councilman kitty gate is our bastion of checks and balances, it's safe to say "houston, we have a problem"...finally, his name is robert steelman...back to project mayhem.
Meatball October 08, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Parents with strollers can no longer access the Sunday farmers market from the alley way. Now, they must go up to Deforest Ave or attempt to push the stroller over the new curb, dirt median and curb again. Hopefully, the city will create walkways from the alley way to the new lots.
Max October 08, 2012 at 05:10 AM
Summit's recent parking modifications make perfect sense when one views Government as an entity distinct from the people, acting in its own best interests. To claim that, "To criticize the parking change in terms that suggests Summit is faced with a decline in character or civility does not seem to be coming from a place of love for community" betrays a far too common misconception of the nature of democracies, ignoring the need in a democratic system for citizens to articulate preceived shortcomings, weaknesses, and problems. "Summit, love it or leave it"? Forget the adage from which that is derived? "My country right or wrong, right to keep it right, wrong to make it right!" Kudos to you, Phyllis Sank, for having the courage, coming from a place of love for community, to speak up to help make Summit better! Robert Steelman, you are suggesting that criticism of Summit precludes love of community. "True democracy . . . depends on the freedom of citizens to speak their minds and assemble without fear. . . ." [comments by the President of the United States before the General Assembly of the United Nations, September 25, 2012] Moreover, in a democracy, "Citizens have an obligation to become informed about public issues, to watch carefully how their political leaders and representatives use their powers, and to express their own opinions and interests." ["What is Democracy?" a lecture delivered at Hilla University for Humanistic Studies on January 21, 2004].
Robert Steelman October 08, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Max So you believe Summit’s parking change is the work of a : Government as an entity distinct from the people, acting in its own best interest. That would be unacceptable and fortunately it is not true here and now. In Summit City government includes city administration, elected officials and appointed volunteer boards/commissions. Those not elected may be entities distinct from the people (acting in its own best interest) but the elected officials can rightful claim they work for the people. Democracy gets confused when members of the public forget that elected officials must evaluate facts and make decisions which are at times not popular. Citizens properly engaged in democracy keep that in mind and may be so moved as to offer something constructive to the debate.
Helen Hamilton October 11, 2012 at 05:47 PM
I keep wondering what will happen in the winter and the snow is more than a few inches deep. It seems that there none or very few ways people can exit the lot to get to the alleys or the side streets. (I can't remember exactly now, because it's simple to just cross over the dirt, but I keep thinking what will happen in the winter when that's not possible.)
AStar Gazer October 11, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Hurry Chris, you are about to have the City sued since the lot has not been designed to be barrier free/wheelchair accessible. Check your ADA texts.
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