Time for Green Park officials to start listening to citizens

Burke Wasson

Burke Wasson


“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Disturbing as it is to print the debut of the word “ain’t” in my writing, the impending Green Park Road redevelopment project sickens me to the point of betraying all newswriting style. Quite frankly, that cliché is the most accurate way to describe the mess in which south county’s best-kept secret of a city has clumsily — and willingly — stepped.

But here’s what should disturb Green Park’s city leaders even more so — we’re not the only ones who feel this way.

On Jan. 16, aldermen were presented with a petition of 18 homeowners who pledge to refuse signing grading permits to lay sidewalks on their property as part of the road’s reconstruction. As their petition states, the Green Park Road project contradicts the city’s master plan, which aims to “preserve, reinforce and upgrade existing residential neighborhoods by preventing the incursion of non-residential uses into residential areas.”

While the addition of sidewalks can be reasonably argued as a residential use, it would not even be considered were it not for widening the road itself. That widening, by the way, is an additional two feet in each lane that would stretch roughly 6,000 feet from Tesson Ferry Road to Lin Valle Drive. Will an extra two feet of driving space make the road substantially safer? Probably not. When you consider the $2.2 million cost of the project — even if 80 percent will be paid through a federal grant — the widening is as unnecessary an expenditure as the latest Celine Dion album and twice as nerve-grating.

But should the city completely abandon all aspects of the project? Absolutely not. In our opinion, a planned extra right-turn lane at the intersection of Tesson Ferry Road is long overdue and will ease traffic stacking.

However, a modest widening is not worth the city’s money. And even if the city were to propose a more attractive road width, do its leaders really believe the same people who oppose an extra two feet would support even more intrusion on their land?

Sadly, most aldermen still hold hope for the project, including board President Fred Baras, who on Jan. 16 said he does not understand why the board is being criticized. If he honestly feels that way, Mr. Baras is not only out of touch, but an em-Baras-ment to the political process that gives residents a voice.

As recent weeks have seen, the people have spoken. Green Park officials should listen for a change.