Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Trust, but Verify

Commentary, by fishmuscle

The army is beginning a new and improved site selection process this week, for a training facility which will need only about 25 acres, instead of the 45 acres needed earlier.  Colonel Landry, in his visit to Middletown last week, promised that this would be an open and collaborative site selection process. According to the Army's latest announcement of this week's meeting (Wednesday, 7PM, Mercy High):
The Army is requesting site suggestions from community members, city officials and state agencies. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website will accept site recommendations for the project. 
The Army is asking community members to recommend sites and comment by Sept. 29.
This is an encouraging change from the two previous site selections, which ended in failure. The citizens of our city should trust the Colonel's word that under his new leadership, we will not be subjected to another closed and uncooperative site selection process.  We should trust that this time, the community will be a partner with the army in choosing a site that is best for the Military and Middletown.  We should trust, but we should verify that his actions reflect his words. 

The smaller size requirement for the training facility site now opens up many more possibilities in Middletown.  The image above shows in blue all of the parcels of greater than 25 acres. Although most of these are likely not for sale and/or unsuitable for a training facility, large lots are found throughout town.  All of Middletown's neighborhoods need to be engaged from the start of this new site selection process. Community members should offer suggestions and advice to the Army as they decide what to do with our community's land.  It is then up to the Army to demonstrate that this community input is given serious consideration as they move forward.  

Come to the Public Hearing this Wednesday at 7:00, at Mercy High School, 1740 Randolph Road.
At Wednesday's meeting will be Mr. David Dale, top civilian in the Louisville District of the Army Corps of Engineers, and Diane McCartin, Middletown project manager. State Rep. Ray Kalinowski will be the moderator of the meeting. Mr. Dale will give the Corps' presentation, in which he will present the revised acreage requirements, the new project timeline, and the new site identification process. There will then be a Q&A opportunity for the public.


Anonymous said...

Any ordinary dope can see the problem with this "It is big enough" and it is "in Middletown" idea of siting an Army Base. Please , do not ask the people in the West to suggest parcels in the East and the people in the East (there are not any people in Maromas) to suggest parcels in the West.

Anonymous said...

Has it ever been suggested that two 12.5 acre adjacent parcels be considered? Maybe even more of Middletown could be "Blue" if groups of citizens got their parcels together to create 25 acre-sized possibilities. My neighbors probably would not be interested but maybe yours would be?

fishmuscle said...

This whole sordid business has revealed far more awareness and care about responsible land use planning among citizen activists than the army and city hall anticipated. My point is simply that this awareness and care should be harnessed, not as a force that is only reactive to threats by developers, but as a force that is proactive and leads the city.

It won't be easy for citizens to take over responsible land use planning. Perhaps the most difficult part is that it requires something more than the unrealistic, unlawful, and utopian demand that nothing west of Newfield Street or east of Saybrook Road can ever be developed. It requires thoughtful analysis of individual sites to determine what site is the most responsible. But if citizens can suppress the urge to adopt a cynical suspicion of others and work together, I think we can do better than the Army.

We certainly can't do worse.