Editor's Note: The following is a letter from the Loop Special Business District. It was written by the organization's president, Jessica Bueler, and was mailed to Loop business owners.
Mayor Shelley Welsch published her latest blog on July 8. Please take the time to review her blog .
Many University City business owners, property owners, and residents are outraged by the Blog’s divisive tone and reckless disregard for the truth.
We deserve more from our civic leadership. Mayor Welsch ran for office promising “transparency” but her campaign promises have proven to be inconsistent with her actions in office, particularly the way she has maneuvered her way around and thru our continuing opposition to any changes in the status quo of the large surface parking lot north of Delmar, between Leland and Kingsland.
Please take the time to share your feelings on this very important matter with our Mayor and elected city officials.
Misrepresented Information Provided in the Mayor's Blog:
- “…One portion of this plan is under attack by a small group of vocal business owners, many who are not residents of University City.”
The Loop Special Business District sent two letters to the Planning Commission on May 21, 2012 and June 20, 2012 stating our opposition to any plan which reduces the number of free surface parking spaces on the North Surface Lot (the parking lot that extends behind all the way down to ). Our membership includes 145+ businesses and our organization has been in existence since 1981.
The Loop Special Business District members have universally opposed similar assaults on the North Lot in 2000, 2004 and 2011. Unfortunately, fighting this battle is nothing new to The Loop’s merchants and property owners. Why does the Mayor trivialize our organization by calling it “small” and why does she imply that our views on this issue (maintaining the vitality of the Loop) are less important than her own views and the supposed views of City residents?
Each and every one of us contribute to the growth and improvement of our City by paying property taxes, sales taxes, the ¼ cent economic sales tax, the 1 percent Loop Trolley Tax, and license and permit fees. The Mayor’s statement suggests that she does not view The Loop businesses and property owners as legitimate stakeholders.
- “They want to have this plan censored so that U City residents who helped pay for the plan do not get into a discussion on what’s best for University City. This is wrong.”
Why is the Mayor telling the residents of the City that the LSBD’s expression of opposition to aspects of a planning document rises to the level of “censorship?” Does she need a civic lesson? Or perhaps a vocabulary lesson? We simply asked to be included as stakeholders in the discussion regarding an extremely important issue that directly the affects the success of the entire Delmar Loop.
- “Again- there is no ‘live’ proposal to do anything on this lot.”
The Parview Gardens plan cost $600,000 to create, and lays the groundwork for future development. If the plan doesn’t mean anything, then why was $600,000 spent to create it? And if there are no “live plans” to develop on this parking lot, why does she oppose removing this section from the plan?
- “Finally, I would like to put out a call to civility. Since I was out of town I was unable to attend the Plan Commission meeting where this Parkview Gardens plan was one item on the agenda. But I received comments from a number of University City residents who were very upset with how some in the audience spoke to members of our staff…I encourage everyone, no matter your thoughts about a certain person on their actions, to remember that civil behavior is the foundation of a civil society. In my mind I know that was the vision of our forefathers and mothers. Let that vision be a reality.”
Please feel free to listen to the audio recording of the Planning Commission meeting which the Mayor is referring to here (click on “Plan Commission: Additional Comments on Park View Gardens Neighborhood Sustainable Development Plan- June 27, 2012, 7 pm @ City Hall fifth floor” located on the right hand side).
Many of us attended the entire meeting and did not hear any “rude and boorish” comments from our members or from any audience member during the meeting. The only thing we heard were reasonable and passionate objections from many audience members who had legitimate concerns about the Parkview Gardens Plan. If the Mayor is alluding to the fact that the City was the victim here because they were forced to listen to public comments at a public comment meeting, it might be time for her to seek employment elsewhere.
The Mayor’s assertions are not consistent with the audio recording made of the meeting. You will hear that. But her falsehood, or should we say fantasy, is just one among many, and certainly not the most dangerous of her many fantasies. The most dangerous fantasy is the one where several hundred people choose to live on top of a parking lot and that in accommodating that demand nothing of The Loop’s vitality is ever risked or sacrificed.
It is obvious to me that the Mayor has now charted a course that includes the suppression of honest discourse, as well as a strategy to create divisions between Loop merchants and City residents. This follows on the heels of her fine work in hi-jacking what was supposed to have been an open and honest planning process. Please find time to email the Mayor and other Council Members to share your views.