Wednesday, November 19, 2008

GANA Meeting

Time: 7:00 p.m.
2621 E Edwards Row


  • pedestrian/bike access to Sahara Mart from Green Acres
  • neighborhood GANA membership due
  • new community permaculture garden

  • Attending
    Kevin Polk, Kimberly Wagner, Ann Kreilkamp, Chris Huntington, Valerie Cox, Kathy & Al Ruesink, Katie Zukof, Sabrina Grossman, Daniel Matisoff

    The Process
    We began the meeting with three handouts Kevin had prepared: a google map of Sahara Mart and its relationship to the neighborhood, a record of the emails Kevin has received on the topic of ped/bike access to Sahara Mart and a copy of an email Dan Matisoff sent out detailing his research into the matter. We began by looking through these background materials, noting the interest in this topic and the controversy surrounding it.

    There are two obvious ped/bike routes to Sahara Mart through the neighborhood, plus another two less obvious ones These are:

    1)Go east on DeKist, and cut through the unkempt, 10-feet wide swatch of private property through to the back of Sahara Mart.

    2) Go east on 3rd Street from Overhill Drive.

    3)Alternative routes: go east on either 5th Street or DeKist Street, crossing the right of way through to the commercial district (Jiffy Lube, Red Lobster, Travelodge) that parallels the west side of the Bypass, then go west on 3rd St. to Sahara Mart. All three of these have the advantage of not driving a car, as well as the advantage of not having to negotiate two left turns: from any Green Acres street that fronts 3rd Street, and into Sahara Mart entrance.

    All three of the principle alternative routes also have both disadvantages and obstacles standing in their way.

    What follows is a list of the pros and cons of each possible path, including elements from our discussion at the meeting.

    Edwards Row

    • 100 ‘ shorter than 3rd St path
    • safer at present than 3rd St.
    • no path now
    You really have to watch your step, or you will stumble and it’s very difficult to take bike or stroller or cart across the 10-foot stretch.
    • the 10’ swatch is privately owned
    We apparently haven’t got permission to use this access: someone has put up “no trespassing” signs. Who? We also wondered who cut down the pine trees that used to shield the back of Sahara Mart from Edwards Row (cut down at least 1.5 years ago, but perhaps not long before then), who took down the fence that was there, and who put the gravel in back of Sahara Mart that looks like a parking space?!? Chris Huntington, who grew up on Edwards Row, remembers that the private 10’ swath is owned by the three home owners directly across from it, jointly, each with 1/3 ownership. Kevin is one of them, but has not been able to verify ownership with the Recorder of Deeds or his neighbors. He is still chasing down a couple of leads and may have more to say on the subject soon.
    • Extra car traffic/steep street raises safety concerns
    A number of people both at the meeting and through emails mentioned that once access to Sahara Mart through Edwards Row was made official by sanctioning some kind of an obvious path, then the situation might escalate into people people driving down that narrow street and parking there while shopping, or for eight hours as employees — especially if Sahara Mart’s way-too-small parking gets crowded. Also, an official path might lead to more lights on the street for safety's sake, which would disturb neighbors who want to sleep without more ambient light. Plus, the steep portion of this street ices over in the wintertime. And, one email pointed out, pedestrians create trash as they walk along, discarding candy bar wrappers, etc.

    Third Street from Overhill to Sahara Mart and beyond

    • Would support pedestrian access to many businesses across the bypass and 3rd.
    • Would provide safe route for foot traffic from East-side neighborhoods.
    • It’s lighted.
    • No sidewalk now.
    And the possibility of getting one is iffy. Dan spoke with Eric Greulich of the planning department, who mentioned right-of-way issues: the city might have to buy private property in front of three houses. Plus, the steep slope might necessitate a retaining wall. Dan also heard from City Council member Tim Mayer, who lives on Bryan Street, who said the city is looking at the idea of possibly taking out one lane of 3rd Street for ped/bike access. But Tim and Eric cautioned that any path there would take until at least 2010 to be constructed. We pointed out that any new sidewalk should continue from the new sidewalk that went in from Hillsdale to Overhill,and that the intersection-from-hell of 3rd and the Bypass should also be changed to make it easier for pedestrians and bikes. Also, it would be great if there were a crosswalk from Overhill to the other side of 3rd Street to allow for walking access to shops on the south side.

    Another alternative was discussed: that of seeing if the Sahara Mart owner would undergo the expense of creating a set of steps leading up from the back of the Travelodge Motel up to the Sahara Mart parking lot. This would also require permission from the Travelodge owner. These steps would make access from either 5th Street or DeKist much easier.

    When discussing the 3rd Street path, Dan Matisoff stressed that the city planning department is now putting a great deal of emphasis on neighborhood input for any planning decisions. He said that if we want to move forward in asking for a path on 3rd Street, then they would like an official letter from GANA. Kathy Ruesink volunteered to move that idea forward.

    In general, though people’s feelings were very strong about the idea of working with the access problem to Sahara Mart as an on-the-ground example of moving through obstacles to create a walkable, sustainable community as stated in our neighborhood plan, and although participants arrived with strong feelings about which path idea was best, we all listened respectfully to each others’ ideas and came away with a pool of shared knowledge of just how many factors there are to consider, just how difficult it is to solve this problem, and how much time it will take to get what we all agree we want.

    Other Agenda Items:

    Voluntary membership dues for GANA are due now. $5 per household. We collected dues from five households at the meeting and a promise from one other to send by mail to Ann K. at 134 N. Overhill Drive, Bloomington, IN 47408. Ann will also graciously welcome others’ dues!

    Permaculture Garden
    Ann K. has purchased the property on the corner of DeKist and Overhill with the intent to create a permaculture community garden on its enormous, sunny side lawn. The house will stay as is, a rental, for the time being. This project will hit the ground running in 2009. More info to come.

    Next Meeting
    December 10, potluck 6:30 p.m., Al and Kathy Ruesink’s house, 2605 5th Street.

    Ann Kreilkamp
    GANA scribe

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