City officials should utilize resident’s self-help book regarding mall

To the editor:

In his

, Spencer Talbott declared that it was time for residents to “get behind this project — period” in reference to UrbanStreet Group’s proposed redevelopment of the former Crestwood Plaza.

My question to Mr. Talbott is this: Exactly what project are we getting behind? According to the redevelopment plan, the only firm commitment the developer has made is to the construction of 225 apartments; all the rest of the plans are referred to in language that is heavily laced with ifs and maybes.

Thanks to an unlikely source — a self-help book co-authored by a Crestwood resident titled “How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy: Is He the One or Should You Run?” — our community has some cautionary advice to help avoid making a long-term commitment we will regret. Because tax-increment financing is a public/private partnership, it shares many similarities with marriage, where there is a courtship phase and the marriage event itself. The book begins with a quote from French author Victor Hugo: “Caution is the eldest child of wisdom.”

Judging from Mr. Talbott’s comments, he would have us throw caution to the wind to support a project that has as much weight and substance as fairy dust.

The book provides timely insight into identifying red flags in a relationship, and how to avoid them: “You’d miss out on the chance to meet the right guy if you settle for the wrong one.” “She was giving up the things that she wanted in order to maintain peace and keep things moving forward in the relationship.” “Have you lowered your standards in order to keep your planned wedding on track?” “Many times we are willing to make excuses or justify bad behavior in our partners just to keep a relationship moving forward.”

“It’s important for both partners to have the same goals … driving their decision to wed.” “It’s hard to think clearly when we are under pressure. No matter what the situation, we tend to make mistakes when we feel rushed, overwhelmed and pressured.”

By ignoring the community’s wishes — as expressed in UrbanStreet’s Open House report — and moving forward with the concept of apartments, UrbanStreet has just raised a huge red flag. In describing how to avoid entering into an unhealthy relationship, the book offers this: “If it takes being labeled a calculator … it will also give you the facts you need in order to recognize whether a relationship will work.”

Given that UrbanStreet is seeking $25 million in tax breaks, we would be well-advised to heed the book’s advice, taking our time to evaluate the proposal with an unflinching, critical eye to help us decide if this proposal is the one or if we should run.