Hopes letter sets off alarm bells in minds of all Crestwood citizens

To the editor:

It is my sincere hope that Martha Duchild’s Jan. 16 letter to the editor set off alarm bells in the mind of every citizen in Crestwood.

In it, she compliments the leadership of the mayor and aldermen who “held firm in the conviction that neither Centrum nor its plan was a good risk.” Excuse me?

As I understand it, Mayor Jeff Schlink and Crestwood’s eight aldermen were tasked with deciding whether or not they were going to hire a professional planner to advise and assist them with the redevelopment process of the former Crestwood Plaza.

If Mrs. Duchild’s assertion is true, this means that Aldermen Paul Duchild, Bill Boston, Mike Tsichlis and Tim Trueblood were actually casting their “no” vote against Centrum and their plan.

This raises more than just alarm bells — it also raises a lot of questions. Do we need to go back and investigate whether or not these four aldermen and Mayor Schlink actually understood what they were voting for?

If they were truly casting a “no” vote for Centrum and its concept — how did they arrive at their decision to vote no? What information or knowledge did they use to draw their conclusion that neither Centrum nor their plan was a good risk?

Who is conducting this research for the city — and why aren’t the citizens privy to this knowledge? And why on earth do any of them think they have the knowledge, skills, and expertise to draw any conclusions about what a successful plan might look like?

I also hope that Mrs. Duchild’s comments regarding the “arbitrariness of the planning profession” and characterization of it as an “inexact science” do not reflect the opinion of her husband, Ward 3 Alderman Paul Duchild, and those of Aldermen Trueblood, Boston and Tsichlis. If they do, Crestwood is in bigger trouble than I thought.

These five individuals’ opinion that Centrum and their concept was not a good risk was premature. Instead, it should have been evaluated and studied as part of the ongoing planning and assessment process. Unfortunately, Mayor Schlink and these four aldermen derailed the process without offering credible reasons for doing so — and with minimal citizen input.

That’s not leadership — no matter what Mrs. Duchild seems to think. Effective leadership welcomes debate, invites dialogue, listens, considers multiple points of view and seeks expert counsel. Leadership does not ignore or dismiss citizen concerns nor tolerate an environment where those with divergent opinions are demeaned as “the peanut gallery.”

Mayor Schlink could have shown real leadership if he had been willing to walk outside of 1 Detjen Drive and listen to the concerns of the many residents — my own included — who stood along Sappington Road last summer pleading for an end to “the stall at the mall.”

Instead, he chose to ignore us. I have a sneaking suspicion that he will soon find out there were indeed “hundreds” of people protesting his administration’s inaction and stalling — when he loses the mayoral election in April. I believe Crestwood’s future depends on it.