Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

West Side Plan Fails 'Reasonable' Test

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

West Side Plan Fails 'Reasonable' Test

Article excerpt

I have lived on the West Side of Evansville for most of my life. My grandparents resided in the old railroad community of Howell and I have witnessed the neighborhood devolve from what was once an independent, small-town community akin to "Andy of Mayberry," to what now, in places, looks like a slum you could find in any big, neglected city. The transformation has been profound. One has to wonder how former residents of Howell would feel about how their former neighborhood looks today. I think they would be outraged as former resident Elaine Morgan-Bookwalter expressed many years ago during an infrequent visit.

With the growth and development of the University of Southern Indiana (USI), the complexion of the entire West Side of Evansville has been indelibly altered. A resident who was around when I was quite young would simply not recognize the outskirts of their neighborhoods were they to return to life today.

Without belaboring the point of how urban areas pick and choose winners and losers regarding which neighborhoods are renovated and which are left to languish thanks to the wages of time and shifts in economic prosperity, the development of the West Side has for the most part proceeded without much area-wide planning in mind. This has led to odd traffic patterns, a surfeit of commercial and residential urban sprawl and in some instances retailers leaving one location to migrate to another simply because a new area was being developed.

In recent weeks, the issue of spot zoning on Felstead Road and proposed commercial and residential development along University Parkway has reared its ugly head again, in planning and zoning meetings and in the local media. Neighbors to the proposed development are asking elected officials to simply give them an overall plan for development along the Parkway before proceeding with said development.

Elected officials, seemingly preoccupied with feeding the ever- growing beast of local government, claim they do not care for the concerns of outraged neighbors, they are more preoccupied with the fact that our young people are leaving and erroneously stating that the unemployment rate in Vanderburgh County is higher than the state average.

During a recent county commissioners meeting, Larry Helmling, a neighbor of the Felstead Road project, correctly stated that at the time there were 25 vacant storefronts between Rosenburger Avenue and Boehne Camp Road (the number has increased by two since then with the recent closures of Janbo and Quiznos restaurants) on the access roads along Lloyd Expressway.

While one can express outrage to no avail, the status quo of unrelenting urban sprawl in this region is a part of a larger phenomenon that many may not realize. In recent years, much of the highvalue-added economic development opportunities in this state are being located in Marion County and the doughnut counties surrounding Indianapolis. …

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